News / South Africa

Brenda Masilela
2 minute read
14 Jan 2018
1:55 pm

Judgment on school pupils who want to attend Gauteng ‘Afrikaans school’ due on Monday

Brenda Masilela

Hoerskool Overvaal's lawyers argued that the department had failed in determining the capacity of the school before making a decision on placing the 55 pupils.

January 14 - Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi (seated) at the High Court in Pretoria during the hearing in the matter between the department and Hoerskool Overvaal on Friday. Photo: ANA/Brenda Masilela

The 55 school pupils who want to be admitted to a school which only accommodates Afrikaans-speaking pupils will know on Monday whether they will be able to attend the school and be taught in English.

Hoerskool Overvaal in Vereeniging and the Gauteng education department were embroiled in a court battle on Thursday and Friday, with the school insisting it cannot admit the pupils because of capacity constraints and a lack of resources.

The school also contended that the department could not simply give instructions and enforce something which was against the school’s policy.

The school’s advocate Albert Lamey further argued in the High Court in Pretoria that the school was not geared for dual-medium instruction, and said the department had failed in determining the capacity of the school before making a decision on placing the 55 pupils.

“That is apart from language policy. It is of grave concern that procedures have been managed in this fashion… No wonder it’s chaos, placing learners and then the problem is thrown to the governing body,” he told the court.

Lamey said there had been a sharp increase in the number of pupils of all races who wanted to learn Afrikaans at the school.

Advocate Kumbirai Toma, for the department, hit back, dismissing the school’s arguments. The school did indeed have capacity to accommodate the pupils because it had admitted 20 more Afrikaans-speaking pupils after the department had instructed it on December 5 to reserve space for the 55 English-speaking pupils, he said.

“If capacity was a problem, the school would not have space for these 20 learners.” The school had been built with 23 classrooms, but only 17 were used for classes while the others had been converted into specialised centres without the department’s authority. The school had approval to convert only two classrooms.

“In an essence, capacity is not an issue. There are five classrooms that can be used to teach learners in English,” Toma said. He also argued that the demographics of the community had changed and it would make sense for the school to adapt to societal change.

“The admission criteria says learners who live in a 5km radius from the school and wish to be admitted, they can do so despite the school’s language policy.” The school should also not be bothered about how the pupils would be taught, because that was the department’s concern, he said.

The school approached the court to review and set aside the department’s instruction to admit the 55 pupils. Judge Bill Prinsloo indicated on Friday that due to lack of time he would only be able to hand down judgment at 2pm on Monday.
– African News Agency (ANA)

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