Schools admissions policy 'must change' to fit in with new regulations

31 March 2019 - 00:00 By PREGA GOVENDER

The governing bodies of Gauteng's 2,080 schools will have to review their admission policy within three months so it aligns to the department's new regulations and submit it to the department for approval.
This follows amendments to admission regulations, which were gazetted by the provincial education department earlier this month.
The regulations stipulate that schools will no longer be able to access pupils' confidential reports from their previous schools, which contain information on whether a parent can afford school fees, and details of a pupil's past behaviour and misconduct.
In a case involving the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) in 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that the "legitimate thrust"of the regulation prohibiting schools from accessing confidential reports was "to screen learners from unfair discrimination".
Fedsas had claimed that a portion of the definition of "confidential report" rendered the regulation irrational and unreasonable because it prevented the disclosure of "any other information that may be used to unfairly discriminate against a learner".
But Anthea Cereseto, chief executive of the Governing Body Foundation, said schools that wished to remain elite excluded pupils based on the confidential report.
"There is often unfair discrimination. The regulations are there to stop schools being exclusionary. Why should some schools not have to deal with not-so-clever learners or those with disciplinary issues? Surely all schools should have a slice of the problem."
The new regulations also state: A school must not unreasonably exclude a pupil on the grounds of race, language and religion;
School feeder zones - area from which a school accepts its core intake - must be increased from a 5km radius to 30km; and
The department may place a pupil at any school which has not been declared full or has no unplaced pupils on its waiting list. Fedsas CEO Paul Colditz said it was not happy with the new 30km radius as its determination was "arbitrary".
"It's a cosmetic manner of trying to manage enrolment in schools. It's just a short-term social engineering response to the problem of overcrowding in many schools in the province," he said.
Colditz said the answer to the problem of access to education in Gauteng was to build more schools and to make sure they all offered the same quality of education.
He said the department could place a pupil at a school if it consulted the governing body or if the governing body's admission policy was unfair.
"Some schools have smaller classrooms than others. There are a huge number of factors that have to be taken into account when determining a school's actual capacity and classroom capacity," he said.
Johan Kruger Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie operations director said Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi should be rational about the logistical implications of the language of instruction at a specific school.
"It doesn't make sense to take in five English learners in a school where the language of instruction is Afrikaans and just one block away there is an English school," he said.
Gauteng education department spokesperson Steve Mabona declined to comment.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day, Financial Mail or Rand Daily Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.