Parents sue to get kids into posh schools

2012-01-08 10:00
Charl du Plessis
More parents are turning to the courts to secure the best possible education for their children.

Since a Gauteng parent last year successfully forced Rivonia Primary School – a former Model C school in an affluent suburb of Johannesburg – to place her child even though the school governing body (SGB) had said it was full , the Department of Education in the province has twice been sued by other parents keen to do the same.

In the Rivonia Primary case, the SGB and the school took the department to court because it had intervened when the child was refused access because the school claimed it had reached capacity.

However, the South Gauteng High Court found that the provincial Department of Education – and not a school governing body – had the final say as to whether a school was full.

Charles Phahlane, spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Education, said the two new cases were distinct from the Rivonia case because the department had “agreed with the schools when they said they were full”.

Phahlane said “the department of education offered those parents alternative schools and they refused, so they took the department to court”.

Both cases are pending.

Although Gauteng has traditionally seen the most late applications for admission to schools because of its urban nature, Panyaza Lesufi, spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education, said that problems with school admissions were becoming a nationwide occurrence.

“South Africans vote with their feet and with few quality schools in the system, everyone wants to flock to those schools,” he said.

“There are not enough (quality schools) and it is always a painful thing to push those people back.”
Lesufi said that recent tensions between the SGBs of former Model C schools, which are widely regarded as providing the best education, and the Department of Education were due to an effort by the department to provide quality education for everyone.

New regulations being planned by the Department of Education will ban schools from paying bonuses and overtime to teachers for duties for which they are not ordinarily paid, such as school trips.

The department sees this as an incentive which lures good teachers away from schools which cannot afford to pay these bonuses.