School’s full: who decides?

2012-09-29 18:40

A top Gauteng school wants a court to strip Gauteng MEC Barbara Creecy and head of the education department Boy Ngobeni of their right to determine admission policy for the province’s schools.

Hoërskool Fochville and its governing body say that Creecy and Ngobeni have no such powers in terms of the South African Schools Act.

Earlier this year, the provincial legislature accused Hoërskool Fochville, southwest of Johannesburg, and the nearby Fochville Losberg Primary School of turning away black learners and saying their medium of instruction was Afrikaans.

Hoërskool Fochville, which scored 98.5% and 100% passes in matric in the past two years, respectively, brought a case against Creecy’s department after it instructed the school to admit black pupils and provide English tuition.

The school lost that case in January and its latest court bid in the South Gauteng High Court is a challenge to the constitutionality of the admissions policy.

The policy, issued by Ngobeni in a circular in August last year, states that the pupil enrolment capacity of all Gauteng schools is determined by the head of department (Ngobeni). The contentious policy also declares:

»No school will be declared full before admission processes are finalised;

»The district director’s decision in declaring a school full will be informed by the school’s capacity, admission data and statistics;

»The district director will consider declaring a school full on receipt of a written application with supporting evidence from the principal; and

»A school declared full by the district director will be informed in writing.

The school says in court papers that Ngobeni’s circular and another set of regulations issued by the Gauteng department in May this year went beyond their powers.

“The SA Schools Act grants authority to school governing bodies to determine the admissions policy of a school and the capacity of a school,” Hoërskool Fochville’s governing body argued in court papers.

Hoërskool Fochville’s governing body is a member of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas).

The federation’s chief executive, Paul Colditz, said governing bodies were much more informed of the needs in schools they served.

“If admissions policy is left in the hands of bureaucrats and politicians, it could have a huge impact on overcrowding,” he said.

He said the outcome of the case would be important and would be closely watched by governing bodies of all schools.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Charles Phahlane and Hoërskool Fochville’s lawyer, Jaco Erasmus, did not respond to enquiries.

Fochville Losberg Primary School is not part of the proceedings at the South Gauteng High Court.

The case will be heard next month.


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