[lg policy] Overvaal too full to accommodate English-speaking pupils, court rules

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Tue Jan 16 11:56:42 EST 2018

Overvaal too full to accommodate English-speaking pupils, court rules

Gauteng <https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng> / 15 January
2018, 5:36pm / *Brenda Masilela*

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Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi (grey suit and glasses) at the
North Gauteng High Court on Monday. The court ruled that the department has
no right to enforce a Vereeniging school to change its language policy at
the last minute. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court has ruled that the 55 pupils who
wanted to be admitted and taught English at a school which only
accommodates Afrikaans speaking pupils can not attend the school due to
capacity constraints.

"I have come to a conclusion that the school has reached its objective on
entry level learner capacity. The head of department can, in any event,
declare it full," said Judge Bill Prinsloo.

Hoerskool Overvaal and the Gauteng Department of Education were last week
embroiled in a two-day court battle, with the school insisting that it
cannot admit the pupils because of capacity issues and a lack of resources.

The Afrikaans medium school in Vereeniging approached the court to review
and set aside the department's earlier instruction to admit 55 pupils.

In its defence, the school said the department cannot simply give
instructions and enforce something which is against  policy.

In his ruling, Prinsloo said that if the department had made the effort,
they would have had to know that there is an abundance of space at
neighbouring schools.

"There is compelling evidence that neighbouring English schools have
capacity to accommodate many more than 55 learners."

Prinsloo made the remarks despite the schools, General Smuts High School
and Phoenix High School, submitting new affidavits which said they no
longer had space.

Instead, Prinsloo said it was unlikely that the two principals made such
huge mistakes in the drafting of their affidavits.

"I find it inherently improbable that these highly-qualified, experienced
school principals would make such a vast mistake when making affidavits."

Prinsloo then dropped a bombshell and read out a WhatsApp message
reportedly between the chairperson of the governing body and the two

In the message, which was in Afrikaans, the principals claim that they
changed their initial affidavits because the department had threatened to
fire them unless they recanted their statements and declared the schools

Gauteng MEC of Education Panyaza Lesufi, who was in court, sighed in
disbelief at this revelation.

On Friday, the department argued that the school was built with 23
classrooms and only 17 are used for tuition, with the rest having been
converted to specialised centres without the department's authority.

The department wanted the classrooms which are now special centres to be
converted into tuition rooms.

Prinsloo dismissed this suggestion and said there were no classes available
for the 55 learners, if one fully appreciates how a parallel medium works.

"This is another display of irrational by the department of education," he

He said that any attempt to restructure the facilities or dispose thereof
would not be in the interest of the school or students.

He further stated that he does not believe that one teacher would be able
to handle the 55 pupils. He said even if it was possible, it is short
notice to appoint a teacher now, as the teacher still has to undergo a
vetting process.

In his closing remarks, Prinsloo said he is convinced that the school is
already full and also found that the department was trying to unlawfully
force the school to become dual medium school on short notice.


 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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