Solidarity recently submitted its comments on the draft admission policy for public schools. According to Solidarity, these amendments threaten the continued existence of single-medium schools where only one language is offered as the language of instruction.
Amendments addressed by Solidarity in its comments are the disregard of school learners’ right to receive education in their language of choice in that schools may no longer take an applicant’s language into account as an admission requirement. Further supportive amendments also criticised by Solidarity include that necessary documentation no longer need to be submitted with the admission application, which will contribute to learners actually being encouraged to apply to schools where they do not understand the language of instruction.
“It seems as if the purpose of these amendments is to make it more difficult for schools that provide single-medium education, such as Afrikaans schools, to give preference to learners who choose their mother tongue as their language of instruction. By doing this, the state can hijack the language demographics of the school and then force the school to a adjust its language policy. Therefore, the state only takes those learners into account for whom no mother tongue education has yet been provided, but it takes no notice of the learners who are now being deprived of their constitutional rights,” said Solidarity spokesperson Johnell Van Vollenhoven.
In addition, Solidarity argues that through these amendments to the admissions policy, the state seeks to strengthen its grip on Afrikaans schools in particular by reducing the responsibility of the governing body and by enforcing its own ideology through policies. Solidarity also voiced a strong opinion against schools having to submit their admissions policy to the Department of Basic Education for approval in future, especially when taking into account the department’s inadequate feedback regarding the current protocol with regard to policies.
“To target Afrikaans schools is not the answer. The government’s role is not to control schools and to strengthen its grip on schools; instead, its role is to build more schools, thereby increasing its capacity to make quality education available. The administrative burden of schools and the department is becoming heavier while capacity is not being expanded. The government should reconsider its proposed policy and rather come up with feasible solutions to ensure quality education for all learners,” Van Vollenhoven concluded.
Read the commentary here.