August 1, 2018

Con Court rules in favour of Hoërskool Overvaal

Hoërskool Overvaal, an Afrikaans medium high school in Vereeniging, made headlines in January 2018 after a huge outcry over its language policy and alleged racism.

The school denied the enrolment of 55 English-speaking learners after the Gauteng Department of Education instructed it to admit them for the 2018 school year. The school’s refusal was based on the fact it had already reached full capacity and that it could simply not afford to take on English teachers for the group of English learners.

The school’s governing body approached the North Gauteng High Court to overrule the department’s decision on the basis that the department had no right to place the learners at the school given that the school had advised the department of its constraints.

The North Gauteng High Court ruled in favour of the governing body, setting aside the department’s decision. It also found that two other schools in the Vereeniging area did have capacity for the 55 pupils.

The department was not satisfied with this ruling and filed papers with the Constitutional Court to appeal the High Court’s decision. On 26 July 2018, the Constitutional Court dismissed the department’s appeal with costs on the grounds of there being no prospects of success.

The Constitutional Court noted in its order that the department failed to prove that other nearby English medium schools did not have space before instructing Hoërskool Overaal to enrol the learners.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s response to the ground-breaking ruling was that the ruling highlighted administrative faults in his department, and conceded that these problems needed to be addressed.

Almie Fourie

 

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