Gauteng Department of Education's lawyer Kumbirai Toma speaks with spokesperson Steve Mabona (in a blue suit) and other officials. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

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Gauteng school argues that it can’t be forced to admit English speaking learners

PRETORIA, January 11 – An advocate representing Hoërskool Overvaal told the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday, that the Gauteng Department of Education cannot expect a school with an Afrikaans language policy to admit English learners as this goes against the school’s act.

Learners who want to be admitted at Hoërskool Overvaal came to court on Thursday wearing uniform from their junior school. They said they wanted to attend Overvaal because it’s within walking proximity. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/ANA

Albert Lamey was making his head of arguments after the school in Vereeniging approached the court when the department asked them to take in 55 additional pupils who are English speaking for the 2018 academic year.
The school refused citing that it was full and does not have resources to cater for English learners and can only cater for Afrikaans speaking learners.
“You cannot by simply issuing instructions negate a policy…You cannot give a directive to enforce something which is against the policy,” he said.
Lamey argued that the department knew before hand that the learners needed to be placed but did not act on time.
“They would have known by 20 October when admissions ended but they chose to wait.”
He further stated that the school is not geared for a dual medium instruction and said the department failed in determining the capacity of the school before making a decision on placing the 55 learners.
“That is apart from language policy. It is of grave concern that procedures have been managed in this fashion… No wonder it’s chaos, placing learners and then the problem is thrown to the governing body,” he argued.
In his closing arguments, Lamey said there is a growing population of all colours who want to learn Afrikaans at the school.
“You can’t negate a single language policy where there’s a growing number of that language speakers of all colours.”
A number of learners who want to be admitted at the school, attended the court proceedings with their parents wearing school uniform from their previous learning institutions.
“I had difficulties in passing Afrikaans when I was in primary school, so I don’t know what’s going to happen if I get to Overvaal and be taught in Afrikaans,” said 13-year-old Naledi Mpana.
The matter was adjourned to Friday to allow the department to present their heads of argument.

 

The North Gauteng High Court on Thursday ruled that the matter in which the Gauteng Education Department is requesting the Hoërskool Overvaal to take in non Afrikaans speaking pupils was urgent.
The ruling was made after lawyer Kumbirai Toma for the department argued that the matter shouldn’t be argued on an urgent basis and should be struck of the roll with cost because the non Afrikaans speaking pupils didn’t pose a threat to the school.
Hoërskool Overvaal, an Afrikaans school, approached the North Gauteng High Court after the department asked it to take in 55 additional pupils, who are English speaking, for the 2018 academic year.
The school has refused citing that it was full. It says it doesn’t have resources to cater for English learners and can only enrol Afrikaans speaking learners.
Toma argued that the pupils, who are waiting to be placed in school, should be allowed to go to Hoërskool Overvaal. She said the department is ready to assist the school with teachers for English speaking learners.
Judge William Prinsloo asked Toma what is going to happen to the learners if the school wins the case in three months time.
“It will be a very difficult position. It’s equally difficult now if the learners are denied access to school,” Toma replied.
Advocate Albert Lamey, for the school, said the matter was urgent and it was in the best interests of the children that the matter be concluded before the schools open.
“If the court finds that it was against the law to place pupils in this school against the school language policy, that will be an important ruling,” he said.
Judge Prinsloo noted that a letter informing the school of the 55 learners was sent by the department after the admission period had ended. He also pointed out that there were a number of times the department didn’t respond to letters from the school.
He said these documents were important.
In some of the letters, Prinsloo said the school indicated that they wanted to avoid litigation, but the department never responded. The judge said he was satisfied the school acted properly when it brought the application to court.
“In the result, the argument for lack of urgency is dismissed,” he said.
The matter continues.
– African News Agency (ANA),

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