Gauteng education department, school in court over additional placements

Johannesburg – Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging will head to the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday to try to overturn a Gauteng education department decision forcing the school to accept an additional 55 pupils. 

The school's governing body brought the urgent application after the Gauteng education department took an administrative decision to place the pupils in the school, over and above the 142 pupils already accepted by the institution. 

The 55 pupils all applied to Hoërskool Overvaal. 

The school maintains that it has reached its capacity, but the department says the pupils were denied places based on their language preference.

In its answering affidavit, the education department said language could not be used to segregate pupils. 

The school's Afrikaans-only language policy was previously rejected by the department. 

Still fighting 'separatist language'

The department also said in its affidavit that Afrikaans was a language that symbolised "sorrow and tears to the majority of those whom it was not their mother tongue".

"Today… we still fight the same separatist language exacerbated by a denial of transformation by certain sectors of society."

The department also maintained that it had the right to place the pupils at the school. 

"A school governing body plays no part in the process of [the] admission of learners and does not declare [that the school is filled to capacity] as that is the duty of the department."

It said the school, with 21 classrooms, has a capacity of 840 learners, but currently only accepts 621. 

Additional furniture and textbooks have already been procured and an English educator will be appointed for the pupils, the department said. 

The school is set to open for the 2018 academic year on January 17.

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