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More than 10 000 comments against Lesufi's school regulation changes – AfriForum

Organisation says parents who specifically asked about mother-tongue education were reviled as being racist

AfriForum, SOS and Solidarity fight back with more than 10 000 comments against proposed school regulation changes in Gauteng

30 August 2018  

The civil rights watchdog AfriForum, the Schools Support Centre (SOS) and Solidarity will today present more than 10 000 comments by parents and members of the public against the planned amendment to laws pertaining to Gauteng schools, as announced by the MEC of the Gauteng Education Department, Panyaza Lesufi, on 30 July 2018.

The public had until Thursday to comment on the proposed regulatory changes. These amendments include, among others, that the MEC for Education in Gauteng will have the final say about a school’s language and admission policy. The department will also be able to decide whether a school is full or not. Proposed regulations further stipulate that no learner may be denied access to a school on the basis of language and that pupils who live within a 30 kilometre radius of the school, also fall within the school’s feeder zone.

Lesufi held numerous public meetings where concerned Afrikaans parents asked questions. However, these questions were not answered at any of the meetings. On the contrary, parents who specifically asked about mother-tongue education were reviled as being racist,” said Carien Bloem, coordinator for education at AfriForum.

It was perhaps easy for Lesufi to ignore Afrikaans parents at public meetings, but it will be harder to respond with the same contempt to 10 000 official comments,” Bloem added.

Melanie Buys, Head of Systems at the SOS, said that the 1996 White Paper for Education emphasises that parents and the community have an important role in educating our children and that the state’s role in a public school must be minimised. Public schools are also increasingly dependent on community resources, as government is providing less and less support to schools.

This abuse of power by the MEC will be detrimental to all schools and will leave the community powerless in terms of the education of their own children,” added Buys.

AfriForum, SOS and Solidarity have created the #Virskole online platform, which makes it easy for members of the public to comment. Within two weeks, more than 10 000 people have already commented through the platform. These comments will officially be submitted to the department’s offices in Johannesburg at 12:15. The SOS also requested the head of the department and Lesufi to address the group submitting the comments, during the submission.

By submitting the comments personally, we will force the department to take note of the fact that thousands of stakeholders have a problem with the proposed regulatory changes. We appeal to the department to seriously consider these comments when making an ultimate decision on the amendment of the regulations,” said Werner Human, Solidarity’s deputy chief executive for legal services.

Issued by Marelie Greeff, Media Liaison Officer, AfriForum, 30 August 2018