Parents face admissions battles at schools, blame discriminatory placement processes

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The Equal Education Law Centre – a law clinic advocating quality and equality in the South African education system
The Equal Education Law Centre – a law clinic advocating quality and equality in the South African education system

NEWS


The Equal Education Law Centre – a law clinic advocating quality and equality in the South African education system – says it has seen a rise in inquiries requesting clarity on the admissions process for learners in public schools.

The law centre says the trends are inclusive of all the varying scenarios that learners and parents have experienced as a consequence of the disruption of the school year.

“Most notably is the scenario of learners going back to school and learning that they have been deregistered,” said Tad Khosa, Equal Education Law Centre’s media and communications coordinator.

Our advice clinic remains open and operational to learners/parents who require free legal advice on education-related matters
Tad Khosa
Our advice clinic remains open and operational to learners/parents who require free legal advice on education-related matters

He said Equal Education had made materials available to empower learners and parents to know what the admissions process is in public schools and to assist where the process has not been procedurally adhered to.

“We continue to monitor the statistics relating to unplaced learners who are being presented by the various provincial education departments and will respond accordingly. Our advice clinic remains open and operational to learners/parents who require free legal advice on education-related matters,” said Khosa.

One parent who is struggling to get his son placed at Rand Park High School told City Press that he had been fighting an ongoing battle with the Gauteng department of education’s district office in the north of Johannesburg.

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Patrick Mohlophegi, a self-employed father of three, said this happened even though he applied on time and his son’s application was rendered successful by the department.

However, according to an admission coordinator for the department in district 10 north of Johannesburg, he was told that his son’s application was unsuccessful.

“I spoke to Peter Swart, who works at the department of education, and he was rude to me. He said that my son’s application was unsuccessful because of proof of residence,” said Mohlophegi.

He said he was told: “You people submit fraudulent documents.”

“I said to Peter that the reason I called him was to tell him that the department had told me that my son’s application was successful, but before I could get a word in he hung up.”

Mohlophegi said when he visited the school to raise the matter he was asked to submit a lease agreement.

To them all black people are corrupt
Patrick Mohlophegi

“I told them that I’m not renting the property, but I could offer them a written letter from the owner of the property. I also invited them to come and inspect the house. I used the same letter to apply for a place for my daughter at Allen Glen High School and they did not give me any hassles. My daughter matriculated from the school last year,” he said.

The frustrated parent said his son had experienced a similar case in 2011 when he applied to get into Constantia Kloof Primary School, which is also in Roodepoort. Mohlophegi said he struggled to secure a place at the school even though he had applied around June that year.

Mohlophegi told City Press that a representative of Constantia Kloof Primary School asked if he and his wife would be able to afford the school fees because his wife worked as a senior manager at a Pick n Pay.

“I was told that another black woman had applied at the school with a fake letter of employment, so they automatically assumed that we were doing the same thing because we are black and to them all black people are corrupt,” he said.

He said his son was robbed of his right to education by a seemingly racist public school in order to try and stall transformation of former model C schools.

READ: Unions and basic education squabble

“I don’t know how this school decides who should be at their school because as far as I am aware it is the department’s prerogative to place learners. The refusal by the school to admit my son is just another form of discrimination and fraud, which I have experienced before in 2011 with the same boy and now it’s happening again,” said Mohlophegi.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department investigated the matter and found that Mohlophegi had submitted all documentation online as required.

“According to his address, [he is] in the school feeder zone for both Rand Park High School (6.9km away and his application ranked above 600 on the list) and Northcliff High School (5.5km away and his application ranked above 550 on the list).”

“It must be noted that both schools received high volumes of applications and, based on the available capacity (280) and his ranking on the list, his application was unsuccessful at these schools,” Mabonsa said.

He said parents should submit their proof of home address as required to be offered a placement at a school, and all other parents whose children were not placed at their preferred school were offered to choose a school from a list of schools with available spaces.


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Gcina Ntsaluba 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
gcina.ntsaluba@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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