[lg policy] English-speaking Hoërskool Overvaal applicants will know their fate next week

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Jan 13 14:19:45 EST 2018

English-speaking Hoërskool Overvaal applicants will know their fate next
Staff Reporter 2018-01-12 17:37

A school in Vereeniging has been blasted in court by the Gauteng department
of education, which claims that the school had refused to admit 55 students
because of its language policy, not because of space.

The Times reported
this afternoon that Kumbirai Toma‚ the department’s lawyer‚ said the
Hoërskool Overvaal school governing body had made it clear in one of
several meetings on the issue that “the school was an Afrikaans school and
that this will never change”.

The publication quoted Toma as saying that the governing body had no
problem admitting more Afrikaans pupils but raised the issue of capacity
and space when it was instructed to admit the 55 English-speaking pupils.

Judge Bill Prinsloo asked Toma whether this was not the function of
single-medium schools.

Toma replied that the department’s objection was not on the existence of
single-medium schools but on the need to respond to the demographics and
changing dynamics of society.

Hoërskool Overvaal celebrated a small victory on Thursday when the North
Gauteng High Court found that the school’s application to seek an order
against the Gauteng education department’s decision to admit an additional
55 learners, was an urgent matter.

“We have this urgent application and everyone, in particular the poor
children and the authorities, want a result,” said Judge Bill Prinsloo.

Prinsloo had found that the department failed to convince the court that
the application lacked urgency.

The school’s governing body brought an urgent application before the court
on Tuesday in a bid to overturn the decision to admit the 55 learners.

Hoërskool Overvaal, whose medium of instruction is Afrikaans, argued that
instructions from the Gauteng department of education did not negate its
own language policy.

Advocate Albert Lamey, for the school, told the court that enforcing
directives that go against the school’s language policy was in
contradiction of the Schools Act.

“You cannot expect the school, against its language policy, to admit
English learners to a school whose medium is Afrikaans,” Lamey told the

He added that the department of education could not negate a
single-language policy from a school that was growing in number of people
wanting to learn in that language, including learners “of all colours”.

Lamey also argued that the school was at its capacity and that the
department tried to admit the English pupils before it had determined the
available space in the high school.

In the school’s replying affidavit, it said allegations of racial
discrimination and the use of language to segregate were devoid of all

“The department is also fully aware that the school has a number of black
learners whose choice of language for education has been to be in
Afrikaans, who have been admitted in the past and have also been admitted
for purposes of 2018.”

In the department’s answering affidavit, it argued that the school was not
full and that students were denied places based on their language

Affected parents and pupils who were in court on Thursday claimed they had
to pass the school every day in order to take their children to schools
much further away, because their children had been excluded on what they
claimed were racial grounds.

“It’s unfortunate that from where we are observing it, it’s nothing but a
racial issue, there is high racism that is taking place in that area and we
believe that they are doing so to deny our children access [to] that
school,” said parent Thloriso Mofokeng.
Judgment is expected next week. – *Additional reporting by News24 *


 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

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