The DA acknowledges the ruling of the Johannesburg High Court last night on the need for admission policies set by School Governing Bodies (SGBs) to be taken into account in the annual school enrolment process.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has inherited a serious challenge. Children relocate to Gauteng, as they do to the Western Cape, to seek better education. Over the past 10 years, approximately 400 000 additional children have sought space in Gauteng schools. Gauteng has dealt inadequately with the issue, having built only 149 schools over that 10 year period.
The result is insufficient space in existing schools for all those who need it.
The MEC has sought to partially solve this matter by trying to force single medium schools to run parallel medium institutions.
Despite committing publicly to a comprehensive audit of all schools, to determine where additional children can be accommodated, the MEC appears to have decided on a fast-track route that does not consider the legal responsibilities afforded to SGB’s, and the Department’s obligations to take this into account. Following this judgment we call on the MEC to return to his commitment of an audit of schools in Gauteng.
The matter was taken to court by the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools’ (Fedsas). They argued that decisions regarding admission and language policy are the domain of the school governing body, not of the MEC.
The court ruling is welcome in so far as it reaffirms that democratically elected school governing bodies have the due autonomy to govern a school in line with legislation.
The judgment however does not provide answers to the serious question of how to balance the right to access education for learners, the obligations of the department to plan appropriately to meet this right, and the existing language and admission policies of SGB’s in communities with increasingly diverse demographics.
Mr Lesufi has unfortunately over-simplified this complex challenge by stating that the court has just “complicated matters”.
For now, we trust that the court ruling will allow SGBs to be recognised and respected by an MEC who now needs to ensure that due process is followed in addressing the complex challenges the provincial education system faces.
Shadow Minister of Basic Education
Source : Democratic Alliance