Public schools need to stop promoting Christianity or any other religion, says the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission).
The commission slammed Laerskool Randhart in Alberton after it was accused of going against a 2017 high court order by not aligning its policy on religion with the constitution.
The High Court in Johannesburg ruled that it was unconstitutional for public schools to promote one religion over others, meaning schools could no longer have people preach to pupils, hold Bible scripture readings and other rituals the public Afrikaans medium school was accused of doing.
The school was one of several involved in the original matter in which a nongovernmental organisation called Organisasie vir Godsdienste-onderrig en Demokrasie fought to have the courts declare that activities promoting a single religion at public schools were unconstitutional.
Chairperson of the CRL Commission, Prof Luka David Mosoma, said it was unfortunate that many schools still promoted a preferred religion two years after a court declared this was wrong.
“The outcome of the high court matter is quite explicit about this because it said that schools have the right to determine access to any religion, but any preference given to one religion is not permitted,” he said.
A frustrated parent at the school has been trying for a year to have the school align itself with the court ruling.
The father, who did not want to be named, said that Christian instruction and promotion was still deeply entrenched in school activities, despite two reports from the department of education recommending a stop to this.
“They have a religious period every Wednesday and they bring a preacher or a mom from the Sunday school, and they will preach to the children in an evangelical way,” the father complained.
“On Mondays, they have the morning scripture reading and prayer, every week in assembly. There are some religious slogans in the building of the school. So, they are basically giving the middle finger to the courts.”
According to the father and documents seen by The Citizen, the school did have a revised policy on religion, which was apparently awaiting government approval.
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