Roads leading to Laerskool Danie Malan in Pretoria North were cordoned off earlier this week, as police remained on high alert outside the gates as some disgruntled parents wanted to know about the placement of their children.
- A parent who protested outside Laerskool Danie Malan in Pretoria says she is concerned her daughter is missing out on schooling.
- She has not been placed at any school despite applying on time and submitting all the required documentation.
- Protesting parents lamented the faults with the application system and alleged racial discrimination for black English-speaking pupils.
A parent who protested outside Laerskool Danie Malan this week says she is worried that her daughter, who was supposed to enrol for Grade 1, is missing out on schooling.
The parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said the school in Pretoria North was among five she applied to, soon after the Gauteng online applications opened in August last year.
She later learnt that her daughter still was among the pupils waiting for placement, despite schools reopening in inland provinces on Wednesday.
Roads leading to the school were cordoned off, and the police remained on high alert outside its gates following a protest on Wednesday.
This after parents of black pupils alleged their children were denied placements at the school.
The parent said:
They have five Afrikaans classrooms and one English class per grade. They can accommodate English-speaking pupils, but they don’t want to. That is what the issue is with Laerskool Danie Malan. Let’s be honest, how many black people take Afrikaans as their first language? Not many. No matter what, the majority will always be white in that school.
She added that because she could not afford to enrol her child at a private school, she would be home-schooled until she was placed.
“I have had to sit her down and tell her she is not going to school yet. I have certain things that I have bought like a lunchbox, a lunch bag.
“She can’t wait to learn how to read. I have printed out worksheets just so she feels like she’s learning something. How long do I have to lie to her?”
READ | ‘Racism must end, we want equality’, say parents of pupils, but Laerskool Danie Malan denies claims
The EFF’s Bongani Ramontja told News24 the party received complaints from disgruntled parents who sought its help.
We stood up for the issue of placement and racism allegations. Parents told us that children who don’t speak Afrikaans as a first language were declined admission on the basis that they were speakers of English as a first language.
Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said racism complaints against the school were nothing new.
On placements, he added the department would build more schools in the area to accommodate pupils.
“Last year, we had the same situation whereby parents went outside, calling for an end to racism. To a certain extent, we had to accommodate those we could in terms of the school’s capacity.
“We can acknowledge that we need more schools in that area. We sent our teams to assure the parents that their children would be placed,” Mabona said.
In a statement on Thursday, the chairperson of the school governing body (SGB) at Danie Malan, Karel van Zyl, said racism claims made by “political opportunists” were “baseless and vindictive accusations”.
The school’s management rejects these accusations with the contempt it deserves.
Van Zyl said the language demographic of the area was predominantly Afrikaans and Setswana and not English, as per the previous census.
He denied claims there were only 15 pupils in each Afrikaans class and English pupils were packed “like sardines” in classrooms.
Van Zyl said officials from the education department had been to the school and were aware of the “true facts”.
He added the school was not responsible for the placement of Grade 1 pupils, saying the responsibility for building schools lies with the Department of Basic Education.
The SGB and the school management have been negotiating for three years with the Department of Education to seek alternatives and have repeatedly informed them that the school is full to capacity and cannot accommodate more learners.
Van Zyl said the SGB had identified premises suitable for the building of a satellite school and negotiations were ongoing.
“The SGB remains committed to finding a long-term solution to the shortage of [space] in the Pretoria North area, but not at the expense or risk of the safety of our learners.”
He added the school also had to boost security at the premises to protect pupils and staff following threats of violence.
“The school management finds it unacceptable that protesters with political motives are intimidating our learners and trying to disrupt our curriculum. A school is a place where children should feel safe. Unfortunately, some are using it as a political football field.”