Afrikaans please, this is the north­ern sub­urbs

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - NOR­MAN CLOETE

ENGLISH speak­ing par­ents in the north­ern sub­urbs are fed-up with the ad­mis­sion poli­cies of their lo­cal schools and what they term the “non­cha­lant” at­ti­tude of the Western Cape Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment (WCED).

A group of con­cerned par­ents claimed they had ap­plied to be­tween six and eight schools in their catch­ment/feeder ar­eas and were re­jected by all the schools. This means their lit­tle ones, who are due to begin Grade 1 in 2018, may not start at all.

At the heart of the mat­ter is the lack of English medium classes at schools across the north­ern sub­urbs.

One of the par­ents, Michelle Bier­steker, who lives 1.5km away from Brack­en­fell Primary, said she was the third per­son in the queue on the morn­ing that ad­mis­sions opened at the school but her ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected by the school on the grounds it had reached its ca­pac­ity.

“I was at the school at 07.30am and I can­not un­der­stand how my child’s ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected,” said an ex­as­per­ated Bier­steker.

The WCED said the feeder-area pol­icy no longer ap­plied but ac­cord­ing to par­ents, schools were still us­ing this pol­icy in their se­lec­tion process

The WCED did how­ever tell Bier­steker and her group of What­sApp friends that a new school will be built in the area, but that school was only due to open in Au­gust 2019.

Bier­steker said the shortage of English medium classes was a com­mon oc­cur­rence in the north­ern sub­urbs. Bier­steker said, “at most of the schools you will find up to eight Afrikaans classes and only one English class”. WCED spokesper­son Mil­li­cent Mer­ton said the prov­ince did not have an ad­mis­sions pol­icy and a pupil was free to at­tend any school. Mer­ton said each school fol­lowed its own poli­cies.

“Some schools may give pref­er­ence to chil­dren who al­ready have sib­lings at that par­tic­u­lar school,” said Mer­ton.

Mer­ton said the Afrikaans-English class ra­tio was based on de­mand and that de­ci­sion was usu­ally taken by the school’s gov­ern­ing body.

Bier­steker had tried Bas­tion and North­pine too. She was re­lieved to re­ceive a ac­cep­tance email from Bas­tion Primary af­ter be­ing re­jected by the other schools. She said Brack­en­fell Primary in­formed her they had 600 chil­dren on the school’s wait­ing list for ad­mis­sion to Grade 1 in 2018. Many of the par­ents in her What­sApp group are still hunt­ing for a school.

Cres­cent Jurd said she had ap­plied for her child to be ad­mit­ted to six schools, all within a 6km ra­dius of where she lives. The child was re­jected by four of the schools and is on a wait­ing list at the other two.

Jurd said, “I heard that if peo­ple go and cry at the school, they get in.”

Cherry Physer also ap­plied to five schools and was re­jected by four. The re­main­ing school in­formed her she would hear dur­ing the sec­ond week of the third term whether the ap­pli­ca­tion was suc­cess­ful.

An­other mother, who wished to be iden­ti­fied as Candice, said a school told her she did not fall within the catch­ment area. “More and more English-speak­ing peo­ple are mov­ing into the north­ern sub­urbs and the depart­ment should make proper plans,” said an in­fu­ri­ated Candice. Her daugh­ter is due to start Grade R next year.

“I can­not af­ford the R4 000 a month that some of the pri­vate schools charge,” she said.

WCED spokesper­son Paddy At­twell said the most pop­u­lar schools in the North and East Metro dis­tricts were full.

“Metro East of­fi­cials are re­fer­ring learn­ers in the cir­cuits con­cerned to North­pine Primary, that still has places avail­able for Grade 1 English classes and Metro North of­fi­cials are re­fer­ring par­ents to schools in Bel­lville South. Most schools in the dis­trict that pre­vi­ously of­fered only Afrikaans as the lan­guage of in­struc­tion now also of­fer English,” he said.

At­twell ad­vised par­ents to ap­proach dis­trict of­fices for help if they were find­ing it dif­fi­cult to place their chil­dren. The deadline for ap­pli­ca­tions for next year was March 24. Schools had to in­form par­ents of the outcome of their ap­pli­ca­tions by June 3. Par­ents have to con­firm ac­cep­tance by the end of the month.

At­twell said the en­rol­ment process was in the first half of the year so that the depart­ment could use the third term to place learn­ers still with­out schools.

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