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Education department loses Overvaal school admissions case

Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi reacts to the courts judgement to set aside the decision by the Gauteng department of education to admit 55 learners to be taught in english into Hoërskool Overvaal.
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi reacts to the courts judgement to set aside the decision by the Gauteng department of education to admit 55 learners to be taught in english into Hoërskool Overvaal.
Image: Alaister Russell

The Gauteng department of education's instruction to the Overvaal high school to admit 55 extra Grade Eight pupils has been set aside by the High Court in Pretoria.

The Afrikaans medium school in Vereeniging approached the court to review and set aside the department’s instruction that the school admit the pupils‚ despite the school’s insistence that it had no capacity to do so.

During argument last week‚ Advocate Albert Lamey‚ who represents the school and its governing body‚ said the department’s instruction — without any consideration for the school’s language and capacity — was unlawful and unfair.

He argued that when the district education director instructed the principal of the school to admit the learners‚ the department had trumped Overvaal’s language policy.

Lamey said the Constitutional Court had ruled in a similar matter that a school could not be forced‚ against its language policy‚ to admit English learners when its medium of instruction was Afrikaans.

“You cannot‚ by way of instruction‚ negate policy … you cannot‚ unilaterally‚ issue an instruction to force something that is against policy and capacity of the school‚” he charged.

Lamey said applications for admission had ended in October last year‚ saying the department had known then that the learners had not been admitted anywhere but had waited until December to instruct the school to admit the learners.

He said the department did not reply to Overvaal’s representations that the school had no space or capacity to admit the learners.

The EFF on Wednesday protested at Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeninging, which has been at the centre of a language row.

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