Schools turn away failed matrics

Schools turning away pupils who want to repeat Grade 12 are infringing on their constitutional right.

Denying pupils an opportunity to redo matric "amounts to an infringement of the constitutionally protected right" to access basic education, said candidate attorney at Equal Education Law Centre, Demichelle Petherbridge, yesterday.

"No learner should be denied access to basic education, or be discriminated against, just because they have failed Grade 12."

Sowetan spoke to parents who were disappointed their children who failed matric were denied a second chance by principals.

At least three teachers confirmed that their school policies did not allow pupils who failed Grade 12 to come back to the schools. The teachers cited lack of resources and overcrowding as some of the reasons they refused to re-admit pupils who had failed .

A teacher from Eastern Cape said in no uncertain terms that at his school they did not re-admit pupils who failed matric.

"Our policy is that we don't take them back because we have not budgeted for them. Where are we going to find the books, chairs and desks for them, and the food to feed them? So, no, we don't take them back."

Another teacher from Mpumalanga said his school usually advised the pupils to find alternative solutions instead of re-admitting them.

"We have limited resources such as textbooks; we cannot accommodate them. We also avoid having overcrowding by not taking them back and that's why we decided not to allow them back."

A third teacher from Free State echoed the sentiments of the two.

He said they had a large number of Grade 12 pupils already at his school, and it would be impossible to readmit failed pupils.

He said the school also had a shortage of textbooks and would not know where to find more.

The teacher said they advise d pupils to go to Abet schools or to write supplementary exams.

But department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said schools had no right to turn pupils away if they wanted to repeat matric.

"Principals should allow learners to return to school to improve their marks. Schools can't deny learners an opportunity to become better," said Mhlanga.

The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) lashed out at the principals barring pupils from returning to schools , and said they must not make their own laws.

Cosas president Zama Khanyase said principals could not use their "common sense" to run schools and ignore government policies.

macupeb@sowetan.co.za

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