Despite the 2018 academic year being less than a month away, around 30 000 English speaking grade 1 and grade 8 pupils have yet to be placed within schools due to what is believed to be language-based discrimination.
Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, has stated that he will be approaching Afrikaans schools in the province which are still utilising the language as a means of exclusion for certain pupils.
Three schools in Krugersdorp have already agreed to take English pupils from this year onwards, but a vast majority of learners have been left in limbo awaiting the decision of other institutions which have, so far, stubbornly maintained their language policies.
“I am going to court this week. There’s a school that’s refusing to take English speaking learners there and we forced them to open-up and they have responded by taking us to court”, explained Lesufi.
The situation continues to draw criticism as some parents believe the institutions are refusing to accept certain pupils based not only on language, but also on culture and race.
These allegations have not been confronted by any authoritative body and as such, remain only allegations.
However, this is not the first instance of exclusion policies in South African schools.
Last year, some schools in Gauteng were reported to have implemented compulsory clothing passes to mitigate the wearing of cultural or religious attire which they expressed did not fit the school uniform. A move which was seen by many as a call-back to Apartheid era policies, effectively setting certain learners aside and denigrating them for cultural or religious reasons.
Lesufi has assured that this is not an affront on the Afrikaans language, but rather an opening of opportunity for more learners.
“We will fight them in court on Tuesday, but Afrikaans people must realise they will still have the right and opportunity to learn in their own language”.
This battle will come at a tense time for the structure of basic and tertiary education in the country.