Have a child at a Gauteng school? Proposed changes to the admission policy could affect you

No learner may be refused admission to a Gauteng public school on grounds that constitute unfair discrimination‚ including race‚ gender‚ disability‚ belief‚ culture‚ language‚ pregnancy or illness.

This is one of the proposals in the Amendments to Regulations Relating to the Admission of Learners to Public Schools 2018‚ which were published by Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi for comment on July 30.

The release of the proposed amendments follows a Pretoria High Court ruling in January this year‚ which set aside the Gauteng education department’s decision to place 55 learners at Hoërskool Overvaal‚ an Afrikaans-medium school‚ and that they be taught in English.

The school said it had no capacity to admit the learners.

Last month‚ the Constitutional Court dismissed the department’s appeal against the high court decision‚ saying there were no prospects of success.

The court said the department failed to consider the available capacity of two English-medium schools which share the same feeder zone.

The proposed regulations also propose that no learner may be refused admission because they‚ or their parents‚ do not subscribe to the mission statement of the school and code of conduct.

The amendments also propose that when a learner has applied for admission to a school‚ that school may not request information from the learner’s current school for information on parents’ financial status or information relating to learners’ health.

AfriForum has expressed concern about some of the proposed amendments.

“The Department of Education is increasingly restricting the voice of parent governing bodies at public schools. Nevertheless‚ involved communities are necessary for schools to be successful‚” said Carien Bloem‚ AfriForum’s coordinator for education.

Although the admission policy of the school would still be determined by the school governing body‚ the proposed amendment states the head of department must approve that policy.

The regulations stipulate that when considering the admission policy‚ the head of department must be satisfied that the policy complies with the minimum standards of admissions policies determined by the department.

The head of department must also take into account the needs of the broader community in which the school is located and not unreasonably exclude a learner on the grounds of race‚ gender‚ disability or illness

The proposed amendments also state that the head of department‚ instead of the education MEC‚ must determine the feeder zones for schools in the province.

In determining the feeder zones‚ the head of department must consider all relevant information‚ including the capacity of the school and schools in the area to accommodate learners and the need for geographical and spatial transformation.

The proposed regulations also require school principals to provide to the head of department‚ by no later than June 30 of each year‚ the size‚ number and conditions of the classrooms‚ the allocation of classrooms for grades and the number of educators and their teaching specialisation and workloads.

Bloem said the Gauteng education department was knowingly eroding the success basis of schools for political reasons‚ such as an alleged attack on Afrikaans education.

She said the Hoërskool Overvaal case made it apparent how important active school management and governing bodies were.

“AfriForum is therefore obtaining a legal opinion on the constitutionality of these amendments to the regulations.”

The public has until August 30 to comment on the proposed amendments.

By: Ernest Mabuza – TimesLIVE

Source: TMG Digital.

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