WCED on construction of new schools in Mossel Bay

Education (WCPP)

10 August 2021
Chairperson: Ms L Botha (DA)
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Meeting Summary


The Standing Committee on Education met virtually with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to receive a briefing on the construction of new schools in Mossel Bay. The Department's presentation was a response to two questions raised by the House of Parliament as to whether a new high school would be built for the Asla community, and if there was a possibility of building a technical high school in the area.

The WCED’s presentation focused on the existing schools in the Mossel Bay area; property identified in the ASLA Park area for a future primary school; property identified in Heiderand for a technical high school; existing schools in the Mossel Bay area; and land acquisition and the location of projects.

Members raised a number of issues in the ensuing discussion. These included the disproportionate ratio of primary schools to high schools in the area, and the challenges faced by the WCED due to there being so many primary schools, but so few high schools; what had been happening to the other learners when the high schools were full; the need for a technical high school in Asla Park/Heiderand; and why the new high school could not be both technical and academic.

They asked about learner enrolment numbers; how long the data predicted it would take for another school to be built in Mossel Bay; the impact of the inward migration of learners from the Garden Route area towards the Cape Metro, and how this impacted on the building of schools in the area; and referred to requests for the upcoming school to have an extended curriculum so that students could be prepared for the fourth industrial revolution, and make it to university level.

They wanted to know whether a new school was being planned for Asla Park in particular, and what quintile level the WCED intended the new school to be – particularly in terms of fees and related issues; what the medium of instruction of the new schools would be; whether the technical school would be in partnership with the private sector; what the timeline for completing the project was; and the number of learners being fed into the four high schools for the following academic year.

The Committee resolutions included a request for an update from the WCED on the learner numbers in the area, particularly the number of learners in the senior phase at the ten primary schools that would be moving to the high schools in Mossel Bay. It also asked for a timeline for the transfer of the property to be acquired, taking into account that the process would start only in 2022.

The Committee tabled and adopted the draft report of its oversight visit to the Crestway High School in Retreat on 8 June, which had revealed serious problems as to how the school was built, and there were issues and questions around the quality of the materials used. For example, the school hall leaked and none of the classrooms had cupboards. Members agreed that an invitation should be extended to the WCED Head of Department (HOD), the HOD of the Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW), and the councillor and sub-council chairperson from the area, to conduct a joint oversight visit on the morning of Tuesday, 17 August.

Meeting report

New schools planned for Mossel Bay

Ms Lesline McGlen, Chief Director: Infrastructure, Western Cape Education Department (WCED), introduced the presentation.

Mr Gerrit Coetzee, Director: Infrastructure Planning, WCED, presented on:

  • The existing schools in the Mossel Bay area;
  • Property identified in the Asla Park area for a future primary school;
  • Property identified in Heiderand for a technical high school;
  • Existing schools in the Mossel Bay area; and
  • Land acquisition and the location of projects.

The WCED was constantly in the process of balancing its budget to address two major areas. The first area was learner safety, under which the WCED prioritised maintenance. The second area was learner growth and the continuous demand for education in the province, under which the increasing learner numbers was a big part of the WCED budget. Additionally, the Western Cape still had inappropriate structures which posed a safety risk to learners, and needed to be replaced. These were big priorities which the WCED had to juggle and balance to ensure that each area was given the budget allocation it deserved.

The WCED budget had been very volatile over the past few years – specifically over the past two years since Covid-19 hit the country. This had had a huge impact on the WCED’s planning. While these problems existed in the case of Mossel Bay, the same problems existed in many areas of the province. It was thus difficult to isolate one region and ignore what was happening in the rest of the province and the competing priorities.

The majority of the schools in Mossel Bay were located in the Kwanonqaba and Fairview areas, with three schools being located in the older parts of Mossel Bay. Three properties had been identified for new schools -- Erf 2510 and Erf 4464 were located in the Kwanonqaba, or Asla Park area, and Erf 5287 was located in the Heiderand area. There were currently 11 primary schools and four high schools within Mossel Bay.

Erf 5287 had been identified as the site to construct a new technical high school in the Mossel Bay area. The erf was zoned educational and covered approximately 4.7 hectares. It was currently owned by the municipality and was in the process of being acquired by the Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) to develop the new high school. Planning would commence only once the acquisition of the property was finalised. The property was located in the Heiderand area, and was accessible to the broader Mossel Bay community. It was considered an ideal site for the development of a school of specialisation. The property was approximately three kilometres from the Asla Park community.

Erf 2510 and Erf 4464 had been identified as possible options to construct the future primary school in the Asla Park area. Both properties were zoned for education, and covered 2.3 hectares and 2.9 hectares respectively. Further investigations would ultimately determine the final location of the future primary school.


Mr K Sayed (ANC) thanked the WCED for its brief presentation, which he described as to the point. He saw that there was a plan to build another primary school in Mossel Bay, yet the ratio of primary schools to high schools in the town was quite disproportionate. What challenges had the WCED seen in the fact that there were so many primary schools but so few high schools? What had been happening to the other learners when the high schools were full? He wanted to get the rationale as to why there was consideration of another primary school, when there was quite a big number of primary schools. There were already 11 primary schools in Mossel Bay – not that there could be enough primary schools – but he was looking at it in the context of Mossel Bay. There were also plans for a technical high school in the Asla Park area. Had a needs-analysis been carried out for the building of a technical high school? Why a technical high school, rather than a regular high school? It was not that he preferred either, but he just wanted to get a sense of the rationale.

The Chairperson latched on to the point of the technical high school, and it being an either-or option. Why could it not be both?

Mr G Bosman (DA) asked to what extent the planning for the schools had been considered. To what extent had the learner enrolment numbers been considered? Was it foreseen that the schools would fill the current gap? How long did the data predict that it would take for another school to be built in the Mossel Bay area? Could the WCED answer whether there was any impact on the inward migration of learners from the Garden Route area towards the Cape Metro, and how this would impact on the building of schools in the area?

Mr G Brinkhuis (Al Jama-ah) welcomed the new school project in Mossel Bay. The Al-Jamah party’s leader had actually stayed in Mossel Bay for many years, and had related that many of the students in the town hardly made it to university level from high school. The request to the WCED was for the upcoming school to have an extended curriculum of another one or two years. This was so that students could be prepared for the fourth industrial revolution, make it to university level, and be prepared for the upcoming years.

Department’s response

Ms McGlen responded to the question regarding the future primary school. The learner numbers showed that there was a need for a primary school. At this point, the WCED was doing the needs-analysis. A primary school was not in the WCED’s five-year plan, but it was drawing attention to what they were doing for projects that were going to come into the basket. The WCED was doing longer-term research and planning, and would indeed decide at a later point. Currently, it was indicated that there should be a primary school, but if the demand changed then it could be a high school. It was thus not cast in stone.

In response to why a technical high school had been chosen, and the question regarding the extended curriculum, the Western Cape government had job opportunities, and wanted to better prepare learners at a technical level for further education. The WCED did not have a lot of technical schools in the province, but it was trying to create a better spread and representation for them. The curriculum was decided when the planning of the project was finalised. Indeed, it may end up being a technical and regular high school – for example, having an academic stream and a technical stream. It was thus possible. This decision was pretty close because the property was in the process of being acquired, after which it would go into the planning phase and the WCED would then engage with district officials and agree on the curriculum. It depended on what businesses there were in the vicinity, as the curriculum and subject choice would link to this in order to better align learners’ skills with the job market. This was why the WCED was going for a technical school, as it had been proven that there were definitely not enough technical and hands-on skills in the area.

The next school to be built was not in planning stage yet. There were many competing priorities, and the WCED did not know what the budget for 2022 would look like. Even when new schools were in the budget, the WCED sometimes had to defer them when they received unexpected budget cuts. There was migration, although not a lot in Mossel Bay. Migration was a difficult aspect to deal with, as migration patterns were complex and did not end in one place. Migration was seasonal, depending on jobs, and when people found better opportunities, they also moved. There were therefore no definite migration patterns, but there was a pattern coming through to the Mossel Bay area from the Garden Route.

Mr Coetzee pointed out that the new primary school was a need that had been identified at this stage, but that it was only meant for future years. Regarding migration, there was definitely a growth in learner enrolment in Mossel Bay. The learner enrolment growth might not be as high as it was in the City of Cape Town, when thinking about areas like Mfuleni, Dunoon and other major hotspot areas. However, there was definitely growth which necessitated the need for future schools, hence the identification of a new technical high school and a primary school. There was a need for a new technical high school, not in the Asla Park community, but in Heiderand, which was just to the south of Louis Fourie Drive if one went according to the properties identified in the presentation.

The reason why Mossel Bay had been identified was because, as was pointed out, the technical and vocational focus was a provincial strategy, and there was also a spatial perspective. The province had been analysed to see the spread of existing technical and vocational schools, and schools of specialisation. Mossel Bay had presented an opportunity to develop such a school and link it to existing industries in the area.

Mr Alan Meyer, Chief Director: Education Districts, WCED, said that what had been seen, particularly in the Garden Route, was number of learners who entered the province firstly in the Plettenberg Bay area. Significant growth had therefore been seen in the schools in Kwanokuthula, to the extent that one school at one point had over 2 000 learners. The 2 000 learners had then been split, and an additional school was built in the community. It had helped to have two schools of 1 000, but currently both of the schools had increased beyond 1 200 each. Therefore, even though an additional school had been added, it was still not reducing the pressure in the area.

From there, learners were found moving from Kwanokuthula and Knysna further down south towards George. Accordingly, a significant growth had been seen in the number of schools and learner attendance within Thembalethu and the old Pacaltsdorp area. From these areas, some moved to Mossel Bay, and a large number of learners were found moving towards the City of Cape Town – not coming into the metro, but were located, for example, in Grabouw and the informal settlement surrounding Umyezo Wama Apile. Additional learners were also found coming into the province via the Hermanus route. These were some of the broad trends currently being seen in learner movement in the province.

The WCED was aware that in Mossel Bay there was also a specific need around skills. Historically, there were a number of learners from the town who went to Oudtshoorn to Oriel College, and there were also learners who went to the old PW Botha School in George, and attended special schools in that town. There were a large number of primary schools in Mossel Bay, yet the number of learners coming through to the high schools was not very high. There was currently a situation where some of the schools in Mossel Bay had increased their capacity. There was still a need to offer another stream to learners.

He added that the new school could be an academic and technical school, but that one could learn from the lessons of Germany, where they had focused a lot more on technical education. For example, where students studied mechanical, civil or electrical engineering, they were able to go into a job straight from school. The technical stream was therefore geared towards this goal, providing not only further study, but also allowing students to enter the job market fairly quickly.

For example, the Jakes Gerwel Technical School out in Bonnievale, where the WCED had started with an academic school with a little bit of a technical stream, had now become an academic-technical school. Skills had also been introduced at the school, because a large percentage of learners were unable to cope with academic and technical aspects. The skills stream had been created so learners could get the experience and physical skills required for some of the opportunities that existed in the viticulture in the area. Farmers in the area had stepped in quite significantly to support the school, because the benefit for them was that they were getting skilled persons coming from the school to work on their farms at both the lower and managerial levels.

The idea behind the skills facility in Mossel Bay was the same. There was a burgeoning gas industry in Mossel Bay, as there was a gas facility just outside the town and talks about the pipelines and related projects. There would therefore definitely be skills that would be needed for the kinds of industries that were expected to develop in the area. He thought that a technical school was best placed to meet some of the demands head on, and that it would prepare the students of the area a bit better for possibilities within the particular sector being created in Mossel Bay.

Mr Sayed said that Mr Coetzee had made the point that the technical high school was not going to be built in Asla, and that it was in fact going to be built in Heiderand. From some of the interactions that he had had with communities, and with some of the school management in Asla and the surrounding area, there had been an expression for the need for a school. Was there anything planned for the Asla area in particular? The technical high school was a great initiative, as it spoke to the issue of job opportunities available in Mossel Bay, and was very positive. What quintile level did the WCED intend the school to be, particularly in terms of fees and similar issues? He also wanted to get a sense of the medium of instruction -- what language medium was the WCED looking at?

The Chairperson noted that, in terms of the quintiles, three of the four high schools in Mossel Bay were fee-charging schools. Mr Meyer had alluded to the Bonnievale school -- would the technical school also involve a partnership? Would it be on the same principle of being a partnership where communities had the opportunity to become an integral part of the school, and start with contributing like the Jakes Gerwel model? What was the timeline for completing the project?

Mr Meyer said that the quintile was not decided by himself, but was decided by the WCED's finance component. The finance component went through a rigorous exercise of determining the income levels of the surrounding community, and thereafter made recommendations to the WCED Head of Department (HOD) on the preferred quintile level for a particular school.

Regarding whether the new school would be a collaboration school or an all-WCED school, at this stage it was an all-WCED school. If there were interested parties, the WCED would welcome the possibility of sharing the expertise around it. It could only be for the betterment of the opportunities for learners in the area if the WCED could engage with community structures or bodies within the community that would like to participate. As per the WCED’s collaboration school model, they would definitely be interested in working with parties in this way.

Ms McGlen said that there would not be another high school within the Asla community. The school in Heiderand was the school that was meant to serve the Asla community, as there was no land available. The best land could be found only in the Heiderand vicinity.

She clarified that Bonnievale was not a school that was a community partnership. Rather, there was a donor that had come on board and had contributed most of the funding to build the school. Working with a community in a partnership was one thing, and having a donor which assisted the WCED by being able to build better facilities because there was a contribution of funding, were two different things. The WCED would welcome a donor, but as there was currently no donor proposal for the technical high school, it would be an all-WCED school. The collaboration partner was a different model -- the partner would come on board after the school was built. From a purely infrastructure perspective, at this point it would be a WCED-constructed school.

Mr Coetzee said that the technical school project was included in the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) budget, but would commence only once the property was acquired. The acquisition was planned to be completed sometime in the following year so that planning could then commence. Planning normally took a little bit longer than a year to be completed, and then construction at least a year and a half thereafter. It would therefore at least be another four years before the school would be opened. 

The Chairperson sought clarity regarding the acquisition taking place in the following year. Was this next year still within the current financial year, or after the current financial year?

Mr Coetzee said that the acquisition would be taking place after the current financial year, in the 2022 academic year.

Ms McGlen added that all details were approximate at this stage. The WCED could not say how long the acquisition would take, so it could not be brought into planning because funds would then be allocated. If the acquisition took longer, the funds would then sit there when they could have been used for something else. The project was therefore in the WCED’s planning, and the minute it was acquired the WCED would bring it into the budget at the budget adjustment stage and start the planning. The WCED could not give firm dates until they at least had planning permission to start with the project. At this point, the transfer process had not commenced and the acquisition was not final. Once the acquisition was final, the WCED could give the Committee an update regarding how long it would take, as they would be in better control of the process. The WCED was chasing the acquisition process, but it was not yet complete. 

The Chairperson commented that of the ten schools in Mossel Bay, there were only four high schools. In regard to the senior phase of primary school and going on to high school in the 2022 academic year, how many learners would be fed into the four high schools? Did the WCED know?

Ms McGlen said that the number of learners being fed into the high schools had not been finalised yet. The WCED was currently busy with the application process, and thus did not have the final numbers. The Department also transported learners out of Mossel Bay if there was insufficient space. However, the numbers should be finalised quite soon.

Mr Meyer added that the WCED had gone through the process whereby parents could fill in an online application to secure a space for their child in the following year. The application process had been closed, and parents were given a grace period to submit further applications. Looking at the data that was available at present, the WCED had found that there was still a large percentage of Grade 7 learners who had not applied for Grade 8 as yet. The districts were currently busy contacting all of the primary schools to ensure that every Grade 7 learner had submitted an application for a high school in the following year. The WCED was currently busy with these processes in the district, and it was safe to say that some success had already been seen, as districts were now uploading the applications. Parents could not do the actual application anymore, so between the district and the school, the application would be captured. Accordingly, a large number of parents had come to do so, and districts were doing so as well.

The WCED was hoping to have a better picture of the situation by the end of the month, so that they would be able to say that they had a specific number of Grade 8s in Mossel Bay that needed to be placed. The Grade 8s would then be divided amongst the five schools. Historically, Mossel Bay had close to 2 500 to 3 000 learners who also went into the specialised educational-needs schools, and therefore this percentage would be subtracted from the total numbers. Some learners also preferred to study in Oudtshoorn, whilst others even went back to George or Riviersonderend to continue their studies. These were the kind of variables that existed when trying to accommodate learners not only within Mossel Bay. However, he reiterated that the WCED should have a much clearer picture of the demand for Grade 8 in Mossel Bay by the end of the month.

The Chairperson thanked and dismissed the WCED.


Mr Allen said that the presenter had mentioned that the Committee would be able to get updates. Was the Committee able to request that the updates be sent to the Committee as soon as the information was available?

Mr Sayed noted that the WCED had mentioned that there was no firm date yet, because of the transfer process that was not in place. He asked if the WCED could give the Committee a sense as to the timeline for when the transfer was going to go through. Once the transfer had gone through and the WCED had sent the Committee some progress report, the Committee could then invite the WCED again.

The Chairperson said that the WCED had confirmed that the transfer would take place only in the following academic year, and not during the current financial year. She further proposed that the Committee wait until the start of the academic year in the following year, and then ask the WCED for an update in writing.

Mr Allen agreed with the Chairperson’s proposal.

Mr Sayed also agreed with the proposal.

The Chairperson referred to the question that she had posed in regard to the number of learners in their senior phase in the ten primary schools that were going on to high school. What was the number of learners going on to high school from the ten primary schools?


Ms Waseema Hassen Moosa, Committee Procedural Officer, read the Members’ recommendations back to the Committee.

  • Mr Allen had proposed that an update be requested and received on the learner number.
  • The Chairperson had requested the number of learners in their senior phase from the ten primary schools that would be moving to the high schools in the area.
  • Mr Sayed had asked for the timeline for the transfer, which had been amended to read that the request would be sent out by the following year to accommodate Ms McGlen’s answer that the process would start only in 2022.

Draft report on oversight visit to Crestway High School

The Committee considered the draft report of its oversight visit to the Crestway High School in Retreat on 8 June 2021

The Chairperson said she was not present when the oversight visit to Crestway took place, and that Mr Bosman had led the delegation.

Mr Bosman said that only he and Mr Allen had attended the oversight visit to Crestway, with Mr R Mackenzie (DA) standing in as the Chairperson’s alternate. He then read through and tabled the draft report.

During the discussion at the meeting between the three Members, it had been felt that the Committee should resolve to conduct a joint oversight visit with the Standing Committee on Transport and Public Works (SCTPW) to Crestway quite urgently in order to inspect the quality of the work done by the contractor. He added to the draft report that an invitation should also be extended to the WCED Head of Department, the DTPW Head of Department, and the councillor and sub-council chairperson from the area. Serious problems had been identified which the Members could see in terms of how the school was built, and there were issues and questions around the quality of the materials used, as well as the materials handed over to the school from the old school. For example, the school hall leaked and none of the classrooms had cupboards. He thus asked that the Committee agree to conduct a joint oversight visit with the DTPW, as well as with a better delegation from the WCED. He tabled the draft report.

The Chairperson amended the request for a joint briefing by the two standing committees. She was in support of both standing committees being present, and added that there should be better representation from the WCED, the DTPW, and those persons who were in a position to give the Committee the correct responses to its questions. With regard to the information, she asked that Ms Hassen Moosa go into the history of the Committee’s visits to other schools that were also in this category, where contractors opted out without completing the maintenance projects that needed to be done. She asked that this be included in the joint briefing. She further added that the complete tender value of the project must be requested from the WCED and DTPW -- what was paid, and whether the contractor had been paid in full.

Mr Allen moved for the resolution to be adopted, with the amendments made.

Mr Sayed said that he had not been present at the oversight visit, but had submitted an apology as he had had Covid-19 at the time.

Mr Bosman said that he remembered receiving Mr Sayed’s apology. He asked that the apology list be amended to include Mr Sayed. He seconded Mr Allen’s move for adoption of the draft report.

The Chairperson asked if a date was being proposed for the proposed joint oversight visit by the two standing committees. She asked if she should check with the chairperson of the SCTPW.

Mr Bosman asked that the Chairperson check with the chairperson of the SCTPW, and that it be done quickly before winter was over. One of the things that the Members had been told at the school was that they should have come on a day when it was raining, because then most of the school would have been flooded and they could have seen the extent of the damage.

The Chairperson referred to the draft programme of the Committee, and asked Ms Hassen Moosa how soon the Committee could fit the joint oversight visit in.

Ms Hassen Moosa responded that what had already been planned and sent out was that 24 and 31 August were blocked out. The programme had not yet been extended into September, so Members would have to give her guidance if one of the dates were to be moved to accommodate the urgent oversight visit. She suggested 31 August as a possibility

The Chairperson asked if 17 August was already blocked out.

Ms Hassen Moosa said that there was no meeting for 17 August, as there was a workshop in the afternoon which took up the Committee’s space.

The Chairperson asked if Members were open for the morning of Tuesday, 17 August, to do the oversight visit if possible. She noted that Mr Bosman had an oversight visit with the Standing Committee on Social Development (SCSD).

Mr Bosman said that he was happy to move out of his oversight visit with the SCSD, as they were still finalising it and had not made arrangements for the oversight visit.

Mr Sayed asked the Chairperson to confirm that there was programming for the Tuesday morning.

The Chairperson confirmed that there would not be programming.

Mr Sayed supported the move of the oversight visit to 17 August 2021.

The Chairperson said that she, Mr Bosman and the two procedural officers would communicate, and asked that they meet the following day to finalise and allow for enough time to make the necessary arrangements.

The meeting was adjourned.


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