School admissions dilemma

Call to cater for more pupils from townships

WHILE the Gauteng Department of Education now has a year to formulate fresh rules for feeder zones, there is still no indication whether more affluent schools in the Eastern Cape will have to devise new admissions policies to accept more township pupils.

The Constitutional Court ordered Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi last week to redetermine school feeder zone legislation aimed at accommodating more historically disadvantaged pupils from the townships.

Nombulelo Nyathela, spokeswoman for Equal Education, which joined the court application, said although the ruling referred to Gauteng, it did not mean the Eastern Cape and other provinces should not follow suit.

“It should definitely be looked at in all provinces,” she said.

“Gauteng was not the only province to be racially segregated during apartheid.

“We believe that since the apartheid residential and workplace lines remain firm, the impact of the default feeder zone position only prolongs and legalises racial exclusion.”

Westering Primary School principal Keith McCrindle said the school gave preference to children who lived in the Westering, Linton Grange and Taybank areas before admitting those from other areas.

“A lot of our parents have moved to Westering for their children to attend our school,” he said.

“We cannot admit children from other areas before catering to those parents who have made an effort to live near our school.”

He said Westering was a diverse area.

“The population in the area has increased quite a bit and all these parents are looking for space at our school,” McCrindle said.

“Maybe we should work at getting other schools better resourced,” he said.

“Then all schools could be at the same level.”

Linkside High School principal Henry Graham said the school accepted children from all over Port Elizabeth due to the nature of the area it was in.

“There is a lot of urban renewal in areas like Westering, whereas we find ourselves in the more exclusive and secluded area of Linkside, with Mill Park next to us.

“There are a lot of people who are retired and no longer have children of school-going age.

“These people are not in a hurry to move … and the homes are not as affordable as those in Westering, so young families do not usually move here.”

While he agreed with schools providing more space to historically disadvantaged children, they guarded against parents hoping to abuse the system.

“If some parents apply to former Model C schools with the aim of applying for an exemption from school fees, then it will become a problem,” Graham said.

Andrew Rabie High School principal Willie Botha said the school catered for pupils from across Port Elizabeth as its previous feeder areas of Adcockvale, Perridgevale, Kensington and Newton Park had become more of a business precinct.

One principal of a former Model C school, who did not want to be named, said: “We need to focus more on why the education system is failing those children in the areas they live in.

“We will need to resolve those problems first because schools will be overcrowded if they continue getting these applications.”

He said Port Elizabeth was stretching west, but there were no plans to build another school to cater for the Sherwood area, which was growing due to the opening of the Baywest Mall.

Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said most schools in the Eastern Cape were not rigid on feeder zones.

Schools should, however, always give preference to pupils who lived nearby.

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