Joint statement: Fochville Community Members and SECTION27: The powers of SGBs must not be abused to deny equal access to education!

Crucial case on the right to education to be heard in the Constitutional Court on Thursday (MEC for Education, Gauteng and others v Rivonia Primary School and others)

On Thursday 9 May 2013 the Constitutional Court will hear the case of MEC for Education, Gauteng and others v Rivonia Primary School and others (“Rivonia case”).

This case revolves around a dispute concerning the balance of power between the Gauteng Department of Education (“GDE”) and the School Governing Body (“SGB”). Central to the case is the validity of an instruction by the GDE to the SGB to override its admission policy and to admit an additional learner to Rivonia Primary School.

The Constitutional Court’s decision in the Rivonia case is a crucial one for the future of equal access to education in SA. It will have an impact on learners and communities throughout South Africa. It will determine who has the final say in how many learners attend a school, what language they will be taught in and who will be excluded from a school on the basis of an SGB’s admission and language policies.

One community anxiously awaiting the outcome of the decision in the Rivonia case is the group of parents residing in Fochville and Kokosi on the far West Rand who seek English-medium instruction for their children.

SECTION27 is currently representing 54 parents against the SGB of Hoërskool Fochville, which has adopted a language policy that excludes English-speaking learners from attending the school. Although the school is operating under capacity, hundreds of learners from the Fochville and Kokosi communities must travel 25 km to attend English-medium schools in Carletonville. The GDE has instructed the school to admit English-speaking learners and offered the resources necessary to operate as a parallel-medium school. The school has refused. There is one English-medium Grade 9 class at the school. However, all meetings and communication from the school is in Afrikaans and these parents are not afforded an opportunity to participate meaningfully in their children’s education.

The impact of the SGB’s refusal to become a dual medium school (offering classes in English and Afrikaans) is to discriminate against our clients indirectly on the grounds of their race and to frustrate their obligations to ensure that their children attend school under the South African Schools Act. It also undermines the right to basic education, and to receive such education in the language of one’s choice.

The outcome of the Rivonia case will determine whether the SGB of Hoërskool Fochville can continue to exclude English-speaking learners from the school, and force them to travel long distances to attend school. It will also determine the fate of learners and teachers in many similar schools across South Africa

SECTION27, members of the Fochville community and Equal Education will stage a picket outside the Constitutional Court on 9 May 2013 to highlight the importance of this case.

For more information please contact:

SECTION27- Nikki Stein 011 356 4118, 082 528 7232 and
Nthabi Pooe 011 346 4112, 076 612 7188 and
Fochville Community- Mr Mosiane 071 897 5674 and

AND WHY DO THEY MATTER? Read more here: Powers of SGBs and PEDs