South Africa 27.7.2018 06:25 am

Education dept again loses attempt to force Afrikaans school to take English kids

Police and protestors confront one another outside Hoerskool Overvaal in Vereeneging on 18 January 2018. Members of the ANC, EFF and parents protested outside the school due to a court ruling supporting the school not include English First Language students this year as it is an Afrikaans school. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

Police and protestors confront one another outside Hoerskool Overvaal in Vereeneging on 18 January 2018. Members of the ANC, EFF and parents protested outside the school due to a court ruling supporting the school not include English First Language students this year as it is an Afrikaans school. Picture: Yeshiel Panchia

Two nearby English-medium schools had vacancies while Overvaal was full, undermining the department’s case.

The Gauteng education department has lost its bid to appeal a high court ruling that it could not force the Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging to admit English pupils and become a dual-medium school.

The department had approached the Constitutional Court directly for leave to appeal against the ruling by the High Court in Pretoria, which set aside the department’s directive that the school must admit 55 English-medium learners on short notice.

It had also filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal in case the Constitutional Court turned down their bid.

Yesterday the Constitutional Court dismissed the department’s application with costs, saying its appeal had no prospects of success because the department had failed to give any consideration to the capacity of Phoenix High School and General Smuts High School, both of which offered tuition in English within the same feeder zone.

The school’s attorney, Willie Spies, welcomed the ruling, saying it confirmed that Afrikaans schools could not be forced to offer tuition in English if neighbouring English schools had the capacity to accommodate pupils who preferred to be taught in English.

Judge Bill Prinsloo in January set aside a December 2017 directive by Sedibeng East district director Criselda Makhubela that the school must admit 55 English pupils when it opened in 2018.

He said the education department could not ride roughshod over a school’s language policy and there was evidence Overvaal was already full when the directive was issued.

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