Powerful English NGO attacks Afrikaans school in court

Nikki Stein of Section 27

The court case between the Gauteng education department and Rivonia Primary School over admission policies is crucial for access to education, Section27 said on Wednesday.

“The Constitutional Court’s decision in the case is a crucial one for the future of access to equal education in South Africa,” spokeswoman Nikki Stein said.

The Constitutional Court is scheduled to hear the case on Thursday. It involves the admission policy of a former model C school, Rivonia Primary, in Johannesburg.

According to Section27, the school refused to admit a Grade One pupil in 2011, saying it had no capacity.

The department intervened and instructed the school governing body (SGB) to override its policy and admit the pupil.

The dispute between the department and the school is around which of them has the final say in determining a school’s capacity.

The case would determine who had the final say about how many children were admitted to a school, in what language they would be taught, and who would be excluded from a school on the basis of an SGB’s admission and language policies, said Stein.

Also awaiting the outcome of the case were residents of Fochville, on the West Rand.

Stein said Section27 was representing 54 parents against the SGB of Hoerskool Fochville, a public school that adopted an Afrikaans language policy which excluded English-speaking pupils.

“Hundreds of learners from Fochville and nearby Kokosi township travel 25km to attend English medium schools,” she said.

Fochville SGB’s refusal to become a dual medium school is said to discriminate against pupils on the grounds of their race.

The Fochville case would be heard in the High Court in Johannesburg.

Section27 and Fochville residents are expected to picket outside the Constitutional Court on Thursday. – Sapa