[lg policy] Afrikaans single-medium public schools under fire

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri Nov 16 10:48:25 EST 2018

Afrikaans single-medium public schools under fire

Pretoria News <https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news> / 16 November 2018,
06:49am / *BONGANI NKOSI*

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Panyaza Lesufi is the Gauteng MEC for Education.
THE newly-published gazette determining schools feeder zones looks set to
sound a death knell for Afrikaans single-medium public schools in the

Announcing the feeder zone policy that will govern admissions by 2020, a
tough-talking MEC Panyaza Lesufi promised that his bold move would ensure
that no pupils are excluded from schools in their vicinity or those located
within 30km from their homes.

Gauteng has a long history of battles between African parents and
Afrikaans-medium schools over admissions.

Just at the beginning of this year, African parents were up in arms when
Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging denied 55 of their children access though
the school was right outside their doorstep.

The stand-off deteriorated into protests outside the Afrikaans-medium
Overvaal, which turned ugly as police and parents clashed.

Lesufi was confident that he has found a remedy for upheavals over learner

His magic bullet was that all schools should redraft their policies and
submit them to the department.

“Any school that had a policy on language, admissions, uniform, hair must
now resubmit those policies to the department.”

Lesufi denied he was gunning for Afrikaans-medium schools, but insisted no
school would be allowed to exclude learners based on language.

“We’re not scrapping any language,” he said.

“All languages will be protected, including Afrikaans.

“But with the new feeder zone, if there are people that want an additional
language (in the school) you can’t close your eyes and ears. “It doesn’t
make sense when your language policy says, ‘no, we only concentrate on
(this language)‘ but your feeder zone has people that speak another

“That is why everyone must resubmit their policies so that we can change
them or concur with them or indicate where they need to make some changes,”
Lesufi said.

Schools in many former whites-only communities have a language problem,
said the MEC.

“Those houses that are surrounding Overvaal are excluded, not on the basis
that they are not within the feeder zone but because of language.

“This new (policy) incorporates everyone.

“You go to Centurion, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have schools there.

“The problem is that the schools that can accommodate people (learning in)
English are fewer and English is spoken by the majority.

“The schools (teaching in) the language of a minority are in the majority.
This feeder zone (policy) will resolve the problem,” Lesufi said.

He had some stinging words for pro-Afrikaans groups that he said were
threatening to drag him to court. “They might have oppressed our
grandparents and parents and succeeded.

“They might have tried to oppress us and we stopped them, but they will
never oppress our children and their children’s children. That will never

Lesufi said the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools
(Fedsas) threatened to interdict the policy.

But Jaco Deacon, the organisation’s deputy chief executive, denied this.
However, he said Lesufi’s plans over school language policies were in
conflict with the Constitution.
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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

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