Court rules Hoërskool Overvaal's application over admissions is urgent

2018-01-12 09:16
(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(File, Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pretoria - Hoërskool Overvaal celebrated a small victory on Thursday when the North Gauteng High Court found that the school's application to seek an order against the Gauteng education department's decision to admit an additional 55 learners to its school, was indeed an urgent matter.

"We have this urgent application and everyone, in particular the poor children and the authorities, want a result," said Judge Bill Prinsloo.

Prinsloo had found that the department failed to convince the court that the application lacked urgency. Advocate Kumbira Toma, for the department, was expected to argue the merits of their case on Friday.

The school's governing body brought an urgent application before the court on Tuesday in a bid to overturn the decision to admit the 55 learners.

Hoërskool Overvaal, whose medium of instruction is Afrikaans, on Thursday argued that instructions from the Gauteng department of education did not negate their own language policy.

Schools Act

Advocate Albert Lamey, for the school, told the court that enforcing directives which go against the school's language policy was in contradiction of the Schools Act.

"You cannot expect the school, against its language policy, to admit English learners in a school whose medium is Afrikaans," Lamey told the High Court.

He added that the department of education could not negate a single language policy from a school that was growing in number of people wanting to learn in that language, including learners "of all colours".

Lamey also argued that the school was at its capacity and that the department tried to admit the 55 English learners before they made a determination of the available space in the high school.

In the school's replying affidavit, it said allegations of racial discrimination and the use of language to segregate were devoid of all truth.

"The department is also fully aware that the school has a number of black learners whose choice of language for education has been to be in Afrikaans, who have been admitted in the past and have also been admitted for purposes of 2018," said Visagie.

Racism

He has also denied that that language was being used as a tool for segregation, saying that the Schools Act and the Gauteng Schools Education Act made provisions for language policy.

"This is not a case where the school intends to deprive English-speaking learners of an opportunity to receive a basic education in circumstances where they cannot be accommodated in schools as a result of the fact that the neighbouring schools are full."

- Read more: School denies allegations of racial segregation

In the department's answering affidavit, they argued that the school was not full and that students were denied places based on their language preference.

Affected parents and pupils who were in court on Thursday claimed they had to pass the school every day in order to take their children to schools much further away, because their children had been excluded on what they claimed were racial grounds.

"It's unfortunate that from where we are observing it, it's nothing but a racial issue, there is high racism that is taking place in that area and we believe that they are doing so to deny our children access [to] that school," said parent Thloriso Mofokeng.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  education

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