Ermelo school saga a 'political ploy to undermine Afrikaans'

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The Mpumalanga education department's move to abandon a former convent in Ermelo exposes the provincial government's insistence on Ermelo High School becoming a dual medium school for the sham that it is, the DA said yesterday.

The DA wants the R3,5 million school, which was bought by the provincial government, to accommodate English-speaking pupils who had been enrolled at Hoërskool Ermelo.

DA spokesman Desiree van der Walt said the school was located in the centre of town and was within walking distance of Hoërskool Ermelo.

"But it is being left to rot and appears to be used for a variety of unofficial purposes.

"This while the provincial government continues to argue that there is no suitable local venue for an English-language school in the area, and continues to insist that Hoërskool Ermelo change its language policy to accommodate a handful of English-speakers," she said.

She said a site inspection by the DA yesterday found a "once-beautiful school", consisting of 10 classrooms, a hall, a hostel, and various administration buildings, now turned into a shell because of neglect.

"Windows are broken, and furniture, which had until recently been in classrooms, had been removed or vandalised. There was faeces and rubbish on the floor.

"The provincial government's persistence in forcing through a change of the Ermelo High School's language policy had on a number of occasions been exposed as a cynical political ploy aimed at undermining the right of Afrikaans-speakers to use and be taught in their own language.

"The example of this school only makes the government's hypocrisy clearer," she said.

Mpumalanga education department spokesman Hlahla Ngwenya said unlike this "abandoned school", Hoërskool Ermelo had all the necessary resources that were not "fully utilised".

He said the argument of the "abandoned school" was first used by Hoërskool Ermelo's school governing body in court as an excuse not to admit English-speaking pupils, but they lost.

"If that argument could not stand in the high court, what makes the DA think that it can hold now?" Ngwenya asked.