Farm owners want to close Hardap school

12 Jan 2017 07:40am
By Rhonie //Garoëb
TSUMIS PARK, 12 JAN (NAMPA) – A school situated on a farm in the Hardap Region could be closed down, leaving the more than 50 learners with nowhere to go.
Piet Diergaardt Primary School is situated on Farm Petrusdal 422 at Tsumis Park, some 70 kilometres southeast of Rehoboth, and has 52 learners in Grades 0 to 7.
It was started by then farm owner Petrus Diergaardt in 1981.
The current owners of the farm, Diergaardt’s descendants, in May last year in a letter seen by Nampa informed the Regional Education Director in Hardap, Mzingisi Gqwede of their intention to close the school.
They are also in the process of having the wider community of people who live on the farm relocated so they can start farming on it.
The three owners - Nick Bruwer, Frans McNab and Pieter Freyer - turned up at the school on Monday, asking for the keys and asking staff members to vacate the premises.
During an interview at the school, Bruwer said they want the school closed as they want to use the land for communal farming purposes. There is also no formal agreement between themselves and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
“Other families are reimbursed when schools are situated on their private land and we never had that privilege. We also heard on several occasions that the school would be closed as part of a campaign to centralise smaller schools in the area and this prompted us to accelerate the process as we want to use the land for communal purposes,” Bruwer said.
The acting Chief Regional Officer (CRO) of the Hardap Regional Council, Theresia Basson wrote a letter to McNab, who signed the letter, asking them to be patient while the line ministries are engaged.
She wrote that they have asked the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Sanet Steenkamp to seek legal advice from the attorney general on the matter.
Contacted for comment on Monday, Steenkamp said the ministry is aware of the issue.
“We will have to see how many learners are involved. These are issues the regional council should resolve with owners… Had the regional office engaged the owners, things could have been resolved amicably,” she said.
She also said they would follow up the matter with the attorney general’s office.
Gqwede said Piet Diergaardt Primary School principal Jackie #Khariseb informed him the owners also asked for the keys to the school on 09 December last year and he instructed the principal to close the school early for the safety of the learners and for the staff to report to the education circuit office in Rehoboth.
“The owners can’t close the school down. We are in negotiations with them,” he said.
One of the residents who spoke to this news agency on Monday said they do not know where their children will go if the school is closed.
“The three men told parents and staff to leave the premises immediately as they no longer want the school to operate. What do they think of the learners? Where will these children go?” Marli Kinda asked.