Hoërskool Overvaal blind to transformation‚ demographics‚ court hears

Gauteng Education Spokesperson, Steve Mabona talks to journalists at the North Gauteng High court in Pretoria where the School Governing Body of Hoerskool Overvaal launched an application to overturn a decision made by the Department of Education to enrol 55 additional students who were allegedly denied because Afrikaans wasn't their first language.
Gauteng Education Spokesperson, Steve Mabona talks to journalists at the North Gauteng High court in Pretoria where the School Governing Body of Hoerskool Overvaal launched an application to overturn a decision made by the Department of Education to enrol 55 additional students who were allegedly denied because Afrikaans wasn't their first language.
Image: Alaister Russell

The North Gauteng High Court has heard arguments of how Hoërskool Overvaal was blind to transformation and to the demographics‚ dynamics and the needs of the area of Vereeniging in which it operates.

The Gauteng department of education submitted on Friday that the reason the school refused to admit 55 pupils had nothing to do with space or capacity but had everything to do with its Afrikaans language policy.

Kumbirai Toma‚ the department’s lawyer‚ said the Hoërskool Overvaal school governing body (SGB) had made it clear in one of several meetings on the issue that “the school was an Afrikaans school and that this will never change”.

He said the SGB had no problem admitting more Afrikaans pupils but raised the issue of capacity and space when it was instructed to admit the 55 English speaking pupils.

Judge Bill Prinsloo asked Toma whether this was not the function of single medium schools.

Toma replied that the department’s objection was not on the existence of single medium schools but on the need to respond to the demographics and changing dynamics of society.

“(The) SGB must adapt. If dynamics change‚ then the school must adapt to those dynamics‚” he said.

The school has approached the court asking it to review and set aside the department’s instruction that the school admit 55 English grade 8 pupils from the area.

The department submitted that it has put all necessary measures in place‚ including procuring furniture‚ study material and an English teacher‚ to cater for the English speaking pupils.

Toma also argued that language was not part of the department’s school admission policy.

“The learners were refused entry to the school on the basis of language‚ contrary to requirements of admission process‚” he said.

Toma went on to demonstrate that‚ contrary to the school’s submission‚ the school had space to accommodate the 55 pupils.

He said the school has 17 classrooms and 621 pupils and that evidence show that the school has a capacity to accommodate more than 800 schoolchildren.

The case continues.

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