Desperate to get their children into former Model C schools

2014-04-13 15:00

Former Model C schools in Gauteng are so in demand that some parents are willing to lie, cheat and falsify documents to enrol their children.

Paul Colditz, chief executive of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools, said he knew of two recent cases in which parents had given fake addresses to schools.

When staff went looking for the addresses, they found vacant properties. “In such cases, we advise schools to lay criminal charges,” Colditz said. He was not sure whether this had been done.

This week, dozens of callers to Gauteng’s Talk Radio 702 said they used devious methods to try to get their children into former Model C schools.

At the heart of the matter is the Gauteng education department’s catchment area policy, which prioritises admission for pupils who live within a 5km radius of a school.

Some of Gauteng’s highly sought- after public schools include Jeppe High School for Boys and Jeppe High School for Girls, Greenside High, Parktown Boys High and Parktown High School for Girls, Parkview Primary, King Edward VII School, Pretoria Boys High and Sunward Park High.

“The demand for space is very high and we could not admit more than 300 learners for grade 8 last year,” said an admission officer at Sunward Park. Another, at Greenside High, said: “The space is determined by the area you live in. If you are not in our area but moving in the new year, it is a problem.”

Gauteng admissions for 2015 open on Tuesday.

In the Western Cape, while the provincial department has no catchment area policy, some schools use it for their admission criteria.

Marius Ehrenreich, chief executive of the SA Principals’ Association and headmaster at Groote Schuur High School in Cape Town, said he did not know why parents tried to fake documents.

“You know you can’t open a bank account using false documents [so why try it at a school],” he said.

“We’ve had a few instances where parents falsified documents, were caught out and their kids were not admitted to the school.”

His school uses an A and B list. The A list is for children and parents who live and work in the area around the school. The B list is for children who do not live in the area.

“It’s hard, we get more than 1?000 applications for grade 8 every year and we have about 180 spaces,” Ehrenreich said.

“Constitutionally, parents should be able to send their children to any school. But we should be reasonable about it. How do you justify admitting a learner who lives 100km away from the school and exclude a learner who stays 5km away?”

Last year the federation took Gauteng education MEC Barbara Creecy to court, saying the SA Schools Act did not give her powers to decide on school catchment areas. The federation won and the department appealed. The matter is now with the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Colditz said his organisation had no issue with the idea of a catchment area, but said schools should decide their own areas instead of just applying the 5km rule.

“If a school in Sandton decides Soweto should fall in its catchment area, so be it. Creecy is bringing back the Group Areas Act in a stealthy way,” he said.

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