South Africa: Hoerskool FH Odendaal must alter language policy
hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Dec 16 16:22:28 UTC 2008
FH Odendaal must alter language policy
By Zelda Venter
Hoerskool FH Odendaal in Pretoria will be a parallel medium school
from next year, the Pretoria High Court ruled on Friday.
This followed a judgment by Judge Cynthia Pretorius in which she
turned down an application by the Tabok Derdepoort Parents Committee,
in which they asked the court to overturn a decision by the school's
governing body that the school become a parallel medium school. The
parents' committee turned to the court in a bid to make the school
remain an Afrikaans only school. Pretorius said there was no
indication as to how many people belonged to the committee.
FH Odendaal has been an Afrikaans medium school since its inception.
However, since 2004 the number of pupils began falling as the two
Afrikaans medium primary schools in the area - which, together with
two other schools, were the feeding schools for FH Odendaal for Grade
8s - turned into parallel medium schools. In 2004 there were 798
pupils and in 2007 there were only 523 - a decline of 275.
The decline had a negative impact on the financial situation of the
school. It also gave rise to the loss of personnel which resulted in
eight classes standing empty.
Pretorius said the governing body had already given attention to the
school's language policy in October 2006 and decided at the time that
the option to become a parallel medium school would be discussed. This
was in light of the decline in the number of pupils enrolling for the
following year and the danger that some teachers stood to lose their
jobs. It was decided that the only way forward was to change to a
parallel medium school. In a follow-up meeting held in January last
year it was established that 500 pupils had enrolled and that 20 of
the staff members were on the department of education's payroll.
It was further established that the school had lost two teachers
because of the declining enrolment. The school had since April last
year lost three posts in total and the 17 remaining teachers could not
teach all the subjects. It was further established that far less
pupils from the feeding primary schools had enrolled last year.
Parents were subsequently informed that the school would become a
parallel medium school, as it was no longer financially viable to be
an Afrikaans-only school.
The parents' committee, however, opposed this and pointed out that a
similar attempt in 2004 to change the school into a parallel medium
school had failed when the matter was settled out of court. But
Pretorius said in terms of the School's Act of 2006, the governing
body can, in terms of the Constitution, determine the language policy
of its school. "I am of the opinion that the court cannot review the
decision of the governing body, as the decision was taken in a lawful
manner by a body which was democratically elected by the parents."
Pretorius added that the governing body took all the relevant facts
into consideration and came to an informed decision that the school
had to change to a parallel medium school.
This article was originally published on page 3 of The Pretoria News
on December 15, 2008
Published on the Web by IOL on 2008-12-15 05:53:00
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