News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
12 Jan 2018
7:52 am

Legal wrangling in school language spat

Ilse de Lange

Hoerskool Overvaal accused of using language to enforce segregation.

Learners who want to be admitted at Hoërskool Overvaal came to court on Thursday wearing uniform from their junior school. They said they wanted to attend Overvaal because it’s within walking proximity. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Everyone – particularly the poor children and authorities – wanted a result in an urgent application by the Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging to reverse the Gauteng education department’s decision that they admit 55 English pupils, a high court judge has said.

Legal arguments on the merits of the application only started in the afternoon yesterday after hours of legal wrangling about the urgency of the application and if the 55 pupils should have been joined as respondents.

Judge Bill Prinsloo ruled against the department, which wanted the court to strike the application from the roll – arguing that it was not urgent; that the school would suffer no prejudice if it admitted the 55 pupils; and that the pupils should have been joined as respondents.

The school maintained that their admissions had already closed and they had admitted even more Grade 8 pupils than they had places for when the department on December 5 last year instructed them to admit the 55 pupils.

The school insisted two English schools nearby had space for them and that 26 of the pupils had already been admitted to other schools.

But the department said the schools were full.

The department insisted Overvaal had space to admit even more pupils and could convert four laboratories into classrooms.

It had already made furniture, learning material and one English teacher available for the 55 pupils, but might make more teachers available if needed.

It accused the school of using language to enforce segregation and deprive pupils who lived in the school’s feeder area of their right to basic education.

Prinsloo earlier remarked that converting laboratories and putting the other logistics in place for the extra 55 pupils might be a bridge too far to achieve before the school opened on Wednesday.


Gauteng school argues that it can’t be forced to admit English speaking learners

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