[lg policy] Afrikaans-only policy of Hoërskool Overvaal means it’s effectively a ‘white school’

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed Feb 7 10:34:38 EST 2018


 Afrikaans-only policy of Hoërskool Overvaal means it’s effectively a
‘white school’
06 February 2018 - 17:27 Ernest Mabuza
[image: Irate parents react to the judgement to set aside the decision by
the Gauteng department of education to admit 55 learners to be taught in
english into Hoërskool Overvaal. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL]
<https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pUxijbdkO80RFWhIIcw0NygbE5jDxT6Iv3IqaUR9WvzJ6arsih9mZkT6SUyzZdt7jPm-0wGKpP76cU3dgCHr0ZdYh9KX4mM=s1200>
Irate parents react to the judgement to set aside the decision by the
Gauteng department of education to admit 55 learners to be taught in
english into Hoërskool Overvaal. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL

The governing body of Hoërskool Overvaal attempted to control the admission
of new learners to the school‚ insisting that no learners may be admitted
unless they submit to Afrikaans-only instruction.

As a result‚ despite the composition of the local community surrounding the
school‚ the school remains effectively a white school. These are the
submissions the Gauteng department of education has made to the
Constitutional Court.

The department is seeking leave to appeal against an order of the Pretoria
High Court last month‚ which set aside the department’s instruction to the
school to admit 55 learners who wished to be taught in English.

In an affidavit filed with the Constitutional Court on Monday‚ Gauteng
education head of department Edward Mosuwe said Overvaal was a public
school with duties to the community in which it was situated. He said the
school’s governing body had thus far insisted it must be a single-medium
Afrikaans language school.

"As a result‚ more than 20 years after the advent of democracy it remains
an almost exclusively white school."

Mosuwe said the department maintained that the school had excess classroom
capacity relative to neighbouring public schools. According to Mosuwe,
since before the 2016 school admissions‚ there had been a demand from
predominantly "African" residents within the immediate vicinity of Overvaal
for the school to accommodate learners in its feeder area who wanted to be
taught in English.

The department concluded that Overvaal had the capacity to accommodate the
55 learners who qualified for admission to the school in terms of the
admission regulations made under the Gauteng Schools Education Act.

Mosuwe said the High Court decision involved important constitutional
issues of procedure and substance relating to‚ among other things‚ whether
issues of language could be used to deny learners admission to a public
school in Gauteng. He argued that, in the past‚ the area in which the
school was situated was a predominantly white Afrikaans area‚ but that this
had changed since 1994 and the area was now dominated by non-Afrikaans
speaking persons.

There was now demand for the school to open up to English learners as two
other English-instruction schools in the area were overcrowded. According
to Mosuwe, the demand was not for Afrikaans instruction to cease at the
school‚ only for it not to be exclusive.

The Gauteng admission regulations expressly prohibited unfair
discrimination on the grounds of language and provided for a system of
admissions that was dictated to by location‚ and not by language policy.
Mosuwe said in terms of the South African School Act‚ the powers of a
public school governing body over admissions and language policies were
subject to any applicable provincial law. "The admissions policy or
language policy of Hoërskool Overvaal accordingly could not prevail over
the admission regulations."

The department has filed a similar application in the High Court seeking
leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal against the judgment of
Judge Bill Prinsloo. It has indicated it would not pursue that application
unless the Constitutional Court application is rejected.


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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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