Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi personally made sure that 35 children were placed in Afrikaans high schools in Pretoria, when he visited Hoërskool Overkruin and Hoërskool Montana on Thursday.
The two schools failed to obtain an urgent court interdict at the North Gauteng High Court earlier this week to stop the Gauteng education department from forcing them to admit about 80 extra pupils. Panyaza said a total of 35 pupils immediately started attending classes on Thursday at the two schools.
“There was no need for us to confront each other in front of judges, as this matter can be resolved speedily. The school has shared with me what they need, such as textbooks and additional teachers. We have, therefore, instructed the district to respond positively to their demands,” he told the media on Thursday.
In December, parents from the community raised concerns of the two schools declining their admission applications, although they lived in the vicinity. According to department spokesperson Oupa Bodibe, the schools accepted children from outside the area to accommodate their demographics and the Afrikaans language.
“The schools compete to recruit the best rugby and cricket players, which has been their tradition. But they are doing this in a non-transparent way. We are saying, let us not exclude those who qualify to be admitted.”
Although schools reopened on Wednesday, about 35 000 children were still waiting to be placed and could only start school by end of February, Bodibe said. The department faced the challenge of placing children whose parents manually applied, rather than using the online system.
“We are trying to prioritise parents applying online. By Monday, we had 6 000 new applicants. We could finish placing them by the end of February.”