‘Unfair’ to re­ject lan­guage pol­icy

Pretoria News - - NEWS - GOITSEMANG TLHABYE goitsemang.tlhabye@inl.co.za

THE heavy-handed and uni­lat­eral man­ner in which the Gaut­eng Depart­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion de­cided to re­ject the Hoërskool Over­vaal’s sin­gle-medium lan­guage pol­icy was pro­ce­du­rally unfair.

Ad­vo­cate Al­bert Lamey, rep­re­sent­ing the school, ar­gued in the Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, that in terms of le­gal­ity the man­ner in which the school’s lan­guage pol­icy was hap­haz­ardly re­jected was in­cor­rect.

Lamey said even though the school had con­tin­u­ally in­formed the depart­ment of its lan­guage pol­icy no com­mu­ni­ca­tion was forth­com­ing un­til the last minute by an of­fi­cial not au­tho­rised to make such a de­ci­sion.

The re­jec­tion by the depart­ment was with­out any ex­pla­na­tion or ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tion and en­gage­ment with the school gov­ern­ing body (SGB), he said.

“Hav­ing the dis­trict di­rec­tor on De­cem­ber 5 re­quest the principal of the school to place the learn­ers in the school, with­out any prior en­gage­ment, was in a sense an over­rid­ing of power and an­tag­o­nis­tic,” he said.

More­over, Lamey said, the ac­tion by the dis­trict di­rec­tor negated the role and re­spon­si­bil­ity of the SGB.

The school un­der­stood that be­cause it was de­pen­dent on the public purse and as such could not have au­ton­omy, cer­tain norms and stan­dards had to be con­ducted in line with the Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Pol­icy Act as well as the South African Schools Act, he said.

If any­thing, Lamey said, the lan­guage pol­icy fell within the SGB’s scope of re­spon­si­bil­ity and not that of the depart­ment alone.

Lamey said what also needed to be con­sid­ered was that some of the 55 had found space else­where.

Of the 55, 26 pupils are said to have found space at other schools, eight had been ap­proved by the school, one had been trans­ferred from an­other school, one was a late ap­pli­ca­tion, seven could not be al­lo­cated space and nine had been dis­qual­i­fied, he said.

The depart­ment’s de­fence took a few knocks yes­ter­day af­ter Judge Bill Prinsloo dis­missed its bid to have the mat­ter struck off the ur­gent roll. State ad­vo­cate Kumbi­rai Thoma ap­pealed to the court to strike the mat­ter off the roll and for the pupils to be placed in the school pend­ing the out­come of the case in a nor­mal court.

Thoma’s rea­son­ing was that the 55 English-speak­ing pupils the depart­ment wanted to place in the school posed no threat to the school gov­ern­ing body.

“The depart­ment has al­ready pro­cured fur­ni­ture and learn­ing ma­te­rial for the learn­ers. They have also sourced teach­ers.”

How­ever, Judge Prinsloo raised con­cerns about what would hap­pen to the pupils if the school’s bid to bar the depart­ment from forc­ing it to take more pupils was suc­cess­ful in the nor­mal court.

Judge Prinsloo said: “What is go­ing to hap­pen to the chil­dren when, af­ter three or six months, the court de­cides the depart­ment’s bid is in­valid? We need to take into con­sid­er­a­tion that schools are open­ing in a few days’ time.”

Thoma replied it would be an un­for­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion, as it cur­rently was. An­other set­back came as Thoma ap­pealed for the pupils, af­fected by the pro­ceed­ings, to also be in­cluded in the mat­ter as it dealt with their rights.

Judge Prinsloo, how­ever, dis­missed that re­quest as he said the pupils were al­ready be­ing rep­re­sented by the depart­ment. Prospec­tive pupils also pitched up for the court bat­tle along with their par­ents. Pupil Naledi Mpana said she had barely man­aged to pass Afrikaans in pri­mary school and was wor­ried that she would not be able to per­form at her best if she had to learn other sub­jects in the lan­guage.

“I won’t get my best marks if I have to learn ev­ery­thing in Afrikaans and I don’t want to do poorly. I got 60% last year but I pre­fer get­ting 70% up­wards.”


Naledi Mpana, 13, Nikita de Klerk, 13, Mosa Mandhlate, 13, and Micayla de Klerk, 14, who are try­ing to get into Hoërskool Over­vaal in Vereenig­ing, at the Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria.

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