Groups want admissions ruling overturned

2013-02-28 16:15

Johannesburg - The department of basic education must be empowered to decide the capacity of public schools, Equal Education (EE) and the Centre for Child Law (CCL) said on Thursday.

The two groups would apply to be amici curiae, friends of the court, in the department's Constitutional Court challenge against a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) decision in favour of Rivonia Primary School's governing body.

On 30 November last year, the SCA ruled that the governing body of a public school, and not the provincial education authority, had the authority to determine the number of children the school may admit.

The EE and CCL sought to support a challenge of this in favour of a finding that, where a school's governing body set its maximum capacity in its admissions policy, this could not be binding on provincial education officials, and should also not be rigidly applied.

"The government must exercise its power to place a child above the capacity set in a school’s admissions policy lawfully, reasonably and following a fair procedure," the organisations said.

In 2010, the Gauteng education department forced the principal of the Rivonia Primary School to accept a Grade 1 pupil, even though the school was full.

The pupil was put on a waiting list, but was later enrolled by an order of the department.

The EE and CCL said the Rivonia school was privileged compared to the majority of public schools, with class numbers averaging 24 pupils as opposed to 50 or 60 in many other public schools.

"EE and CCL recognise that this is a sensitive issue and do not support policies that seek to destroy or diminish these more privileged public schools in the name of equality.

"However, they believe that the law must, and does, support ensuring greater and fairer access to well-resourced public schools, while the work goes on to bring the majority of public schools up to an acceptable level."

The matter would be heard in the Constitutional Court on 9 May.

  • fabrizio.schiavini.3 - 2013-02-28 16:58

    If all our schools were like Rivonia, we wouldn't have the current education crisis, but it looks like thats where we are heading if the department gets their way

  • Richard - 2013-02-28 17:52

    It is very simple. I was part of a Government school where we paid the fees whilst many and most asked for exemptions based on income. This was ok. at some point it is not ok. when I am paying increasingly high fees determined by the Governing Body to keep the same class numbers going with fewer paying parents it simply becomes a burden shifted onto my shoulders and this is no longer ok. Now I have moved my kids to a private school for double the fees but half the kids in the school. I fully appreciate the plight of the parents who cannot do it but for me to be able to do it costs a huge sacrifice on my part. I only wonder what sacrifice our Government is making to make proper education available. We know the budget makes huge provision but we also know that the money is spent on tenders who do not deliver and teachers who do not teach. Is my responsibility really to finance this from my pocket at the expense of my own kids while the Government does nothing. I think not. This is not upliftment but using me to make up the shortfall that Government steals. My heart cries for the kids that do not get it but I do not have the power of the National Budget behind me.

      pws69 - 2013-03-01 16:31

      I was an SGB chair, and my recommendation through out my term was no more than 25% non fee paying. Most parents agreed with this. When it gets to 40%, the school fails.

  • MarkH - 2013-02-28 18:30

    The department of education couldn't be empowered to organise a p*ss up in a brewery. If they really want the education system to work, they should empower the DA to run it.

  • Roy Clarke - 2013-02-28 20:22


  • Roy Clarke - 2013-02-28 20:22


  • Roy Clarke - 2013-02-28 20:31

    This article is completely useless. In summary, the real story here is that the school governing body had decided on the number of pupils at the school. Once this number had been reached, no further applications were accepted but a waiting list was created for parents who still wished their children to be admitted to the school should there be any cancellations etc. A parent who had applied late had his child placed on the waiting list. He demanded that his child be enrolled at the school. The school refused so the parent went to his mate at the Department of Education who changed the regulations and took the child to school and insisted that the child be placed in a specific class which was to the liking of the parent and Department of Education despite the fact that the child was well down on the waiting list. The school governing body took this to court which found that the Department of Education was manifestly wrong in changing the legislation which was not within its powers and was thrown out of court. This may not be utterly precise but is the gist of the court case which there is now an attempt to overturn.

  • andrew.malan.3 - 2013-03-01 06:54

    Extrapolating this argument, they suggest that where population growth, or simply demand for places in better schools, exceeds the increase in classroom capacity, the Dept should simply increase class sizes - from 30 to 40 to 50 ... Without any right for the affected parents to intervene (and notwithstanding whatever personal investment the parents make to try to bring the numbers back down). This NGO has nothing useful to offer the case or society - the unintended consequences of their views will be a poor education for all, including those who might have done far better, and a race to the bottom of the skills spectrum. This in turn will impose a sub-standard future on kids and parents who could have got, and deserved, better. South Africa needs a completely different approach if its educational deficiencies are to be confronted.

  • vivian.hawkins.12 - 2013-03-01 07:34

    People still don't see that we have a huge problem with the standards of education that are being set at the public schools in South Africa, the level required to pass is a joke (30%), When these kids try to apply later in life to higher level institutes they will not have half of the required basic foundation to understand or grasp the power of the information of the subjects that are being taught, also the ability of the current power that be just don't have a clue how to solve this problem, or is it that if they keep the people uneducated then they can rule until the Christ returns as they our leaders promised, It is worse than the stone ages where only the wealthy where educated

  • pws69 - 2013-03-01 16:30

    "However, they believe that the law must, and does, support ensuring greater and fairer access to well-resourced public schools, while the work goes on to bring the majority of public schools up to an acceptable level." WHO paid for the additional classrooms? PARENTS, NOT GOVERNMENT WHO pays for the additional teachers? PARENTS, NOT GOVERNMENT WHO subsidises these "poor" learners? PARENTS, NOT GOVERNMENT These are the FACTS For each poor learner, the government pays less than R300 a year, whilst the school fees are over R15,000 per year for the PAYING PARENTS. We already pay enough in taxes, so why should we BLINDLY pay for those who breed when they cannot feed? More importantly, WHY does the government NOT fix the dysfunctional schools? Equal Education, why are you trying to bring the standards of the few functional schools DOWN, instead of working to RAISE the standards of the other schools? EE, you are COMPLETELY wrong here.

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