Afrikaans schools come under fire

This follows the South Gauteng High Court’s decision, on May 26, to grant an urgent application to prevent the provincial education department from actively interfering with public schools’ language and admissions policies.

The urgent application followed after Afrikaans single-medium schools in Gauteng were informed by the GED that new learners, who are admitted to these schools starting next term, may enjoy the opportunity of being taught in English.

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi recently announced the department’s proposed plans on the conversion of 124 Gauteng single-medium schools to parallel-medium schools.

Schools reportedly targeted in Boksburg are Hoërskool Dr EG Jansen, Laerskool Goudrand, Laerskool Westwood and Laerskool Concordia.

According to GDE spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane, due to the increasing demand for space in Gauteng schools and the influx of learners from other provinces into Gauteng, the department has taken a decision to utilise available space to admit these learners.

“This, therefore, calls for the maximum usage of all available space to accommodate learners, informed by our constitutional obligation to place all learners who require admission into our schools,” she said.

“In view of this, the department has developed a strategy to convert 124 single-medium schools to parallel-medium schools, as a means to address overcrowding in most of our schools.”

Sekhonyane added that the whole process will be done within the confines of the law.

“The department will soon start consultation processes with all the affected schools,” she added.

“The consultation process will involve meetings with all the affected principals, unions and school governing bodies, to take them through the process, including the envisaged gains and to address potential fears and challenges.”

The CEO of Fedsas, Paul Colditz, said that, following the May 26 court hearing, schools may continue to deal with applications and admissions according to the procedures of the past couple of years, including public schools that may determine their own language and admissions policies.

A second part of the application, that deals specifically with the conversion of single-medium schools to parallel-medium schools will be heard later.

“The court’s decision, however, for now makes provision for schools to be able to continue as normal,” said Colditz.

MEC Lesufi has since accused Fedsas of racism.

“It is clear that the MEC of Education and the department do not realise the extent of the issue,” said Dr Jaco Deacon, deputy CEO of Fedsas.

“This is not about race, language or bringing back exclusivity, such allegations are merely an effort to politicise the issue.

“This case is simply about the authority and functions of school governing bodies and about the principle of legality, which determines that officials may do only what they are authorised to do in accordance with the law.

“In this instance, the MEC exceeded his authority and acted outside the legal framework, as well as previous decisions by the Constitutional Court.”

Colditz said departmental interference with the language and admissions policies of public schools in Gauteng is a recurring problem.

“However, this court decision creates a platform for investigating and finding a permanent solution,” he added.

”It is not the goal of Fedsas to oppose the provincial education department at every opportunity.

“On the contrary, the organisation wants to establish a positive working relationship with the MEC and the department, in order to avoid costly court cases and unnecessary stumbling blocks in processes.”

Colditz said it remains Fedsas’ first priority to protect the interests of its members.

“Our member schools have been advised to report any form of pressure or intimidation,” said Colditz.

The GED, in reaction, said it has noted the judgement handed down in the South Gauteng High Court, but views the case brought by Fedsas as being flawed.

Sekhonyane said the case is motivated by concerns that do not accord with the Constitution, or the regulatory framework governing education and, particularly, access to education in the new democracy. – @IschkeBoksburg

Other relevant articles:

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Skoolseuns gevang met R2 500 se steroïede

 

 

 

  AUTHOR
Ischke de Jager
Journalist

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