School slams 'bully tactics' by officials

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Feb 10 13:52:13 UTC 2005

School slams 'bully tactics' by officials
By Theresa Smith

The education department was accused in the Cape High Court of being a
"provocateur" and "a bully" interested only in getting its own way in the
Larskool Mikro case, even if it meant breaking its own laws. The charge
was levelled by Jan Heunis, for the governing body, which is asking the
High Court to overturn an instruction from the Western Cape education
department to create an English stream at the Afrikaans-medium school.

Heunis argued that the education department had undertaken an unlawful
administrative action by insisting children be enrolled despite the
governing body's misgivings. In terms of the norms and standards which
underpin the School Act, the head of the education department can instruct
a school to introduce another language of instruction if 40 or more pupils
indicate this is what they need and there is no space for them at another
school in the school district.

Heunis argued that since only 21 children seeking English-language
instruction were enrolled at the school at the beginning of the year, this
did not warrant a change in its policy. Originally the school was given
the names of 40 pupils, but only 23 indicated they wanted to enrol at the
school, and two were withdrawn after the first day.

"The action was ultra vires and the school cannot be forced to accommodate
the children. Within the context of scarce resources, the cost of starting
a new stream cannot be justified," Heunis argued.

The children's application forms had not yet been fully processed and they
had therefore not been properly admitted to the school.

The governing body has maintained it is prepared to take on more
Afrikaans-language pupils, but does not want to change its language

The education department wants the school to introduce an English stream
because it says all the other schools in the area are full and there is a
growing need for English as a medium in the Kuils River area.

The governing body contends nearby De Kuilen Primary would be able to
accommodate more English Grade One pupils if Mikro takes on some of their
Afrikaans-language pupils.

The case continues on Wednesday.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Cape Argus on
February 09, 2005

Published on the Web by IOL on 2005-02-09 10:15:00

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