Massive changes on the cards for Gauteng schools

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Public schools in Gauteng may soon have a greatly reduced say in which students they admit.

This is after education MEC Panyaza Lesufi published amendments to the regulations relating to the Admission of Learners to Public Schools on Monday (30 July).

According to the regulations, a learner may not be refused admission on any grounds that constitute unfair discrimination, including race, ethnic or social origin, colour, gender, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language, pregnancy, HIV and AIDS status, or any other illness.

In addition to the above grounds, the regulations state that a student’s financial status may no longer be a deciding factor when selecting them for admission.

According to the proposed amendments, a learner may not be refused admission:

  • Because his or her parent is unable to pay or has not paid school fees or the deposit determined by the school governing body;
  • He/she does not subscribe to the mission statement and code of conduct of the school;
  • He/she has refused to enter into a contract in terms of which the parent waives any claim for damages arising out of the education of the learner;
  • On the grounds that the learner is not entering into boarding accommodation offered by the school.

Admission tests have also been scrapped, while schools will also be barred from demanding confidential reports on parents’ financial status to determine whether they can afford the school fees, as well as their employment details or information relating to learners’ health, misconduct or behaviour that may be used to unfairly discriminate against learners.

Hoërskool Overvaal

The amendments follow a July Constitutional Court judgement against the Gauteng Department of Education, which found that Hoërskool Overvaal did not have capacity to enroll English-speaking pupils.

In January this year, Hoërskool Overvaal – a high school where the medium of instruction is Afrikaans – approached the North Gauteng High Court after the department attempted to place 55 pupils, who would have to be taught in English, at the school.

At the time, Judge Bill Prinsloo set aside the department’s decision to admit 55 pupils to the Vereeniging school, saying that the school had no capacity to receive the pupils, and could not effectively convert to a dual medium school at such short notice.

In-line with this judgement, the amendments also revise what is classified as a ‘feeder zone’, and how schools determine whether they have ‘capacity’ to accept more learners.

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