South Africa: Ermelo school saga a ‘p olitical ploy to undermine Afrikaans’

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Fri Jan 25 15:49:35 UTC 2008

Ermelo school saga a 'political ploy to undermine Afrikaans'

Alfred Moselakgomo
24 January 2008

The Mpumalanga education department's move to abandon a former convent
in Ermelo exposes the provincial government's insistence on Ermelo
High School becoming a dual medium school for the sham that it is, the
D A said yesterday.

The DA wants the R3,5 million school, which was bought by the
provincial government, to accommodate English-speaking pupils who had
been enrolled at Hoërskool Ermelo.

DA spokesman Desiree van der Walt said the school was located in the
centre of town and was within walking distance of Hoërskool Ermelo.

"But it is being left to rot and appears to be used for a variety of
unofficial purposes.

"This while the provincial government continues to argue that there is
no suitable local venue for an English-language school in the area,
and continues to insist that Hoërskool Ermelo change its language
policy to accommodate a handful of English-speakers," she said.

She said a site inspection by the DA yesterday found a "once-beautiful
school", consisting of 10 classrooms, a hall, a hostel, and various
administration buildings, now turned into a shell because of neglect.

"Windows are broken, and furniture, which had until recently been in
classrooms, had been removed or vandalised. There was faeces and
rubbish on the floor.

"The provincial government's persistence in forcing through a change
of the Ermelo High School's language policy had on a number of
occasions been exposed as a cynical political ploy aimed at
undermining the right of Afrikaans-speakers to use and be taught in
their own language.

"The example of this school only makes the government's hypocrisy
clearer," she said.

Mpumalanga education department spokesman Hlahla Ngwenya said unlike
this "abandoned school", Hoërskool Ermelo had all the necessary
resources that were not "fully utilised".

He said the argument of the "abandoned school" was first used by
Hoërskool Ermelo's school governing body in court as an excuse not to
admit English-speaking pupils, but they lost.

"If that argument could not stand in the high court, what makes the DA
think that it can hold now?" Ngwenya asked.

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