The blame for the annual placement problems experienced by learners in Gauteng can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the ANC government, which is failing to build enough schools.
Every year it is a struggle to place all learners and increasing pressure is put on Afrikaans schools, in particular, to take in more learners even after having been filled to capacity.
The FF Plus condemns the ANC’s modus operandi as it jeopardises the right to mother-tongue education and puts needless pressure on infrastructure, which could lead to another tragedy as in the case of Hoërskool Driehoek.
The chairperson of the Gauteng Legislature’s Education Committee, Mr Joe Mpisi, specifically requested in a statement earlier this week that Afrikaans schools must open themselves up to take in extra learners.
The FF Plus, however, wants to remind the ANC that only 6,13% of all public schools in Gauteng are Afrikaans single- and double-medium schools.
It is illogical to think that transforming these schools by compelling them to accommodate extra non-Afrikaans learners will in any way resolve the placement problem.
There seems to be absolutely no regard for the right to mother-tongue education. Where will the large number of Afrikaans learners go if all Afrikaans schools have been destroyed?
Apart from the Western Cape, Gauteng has the most Afrikaans speakers in the country. Their rights must not be disregarded and the FF Plus will not tolerate it.
The solution clearly lies in creating more school infrastructure nearer to communities.
The stumbling block, however, is the ANC government’s poor planning due to its failure to conduct proper demographic trend analyses.
In reply to a recent written question from the FF Plus to the MEC for Education, Mr Matome Chiloane, he indicated that the need for placement in a school is only determined once parents apply on behalf of their children.
It means that the Department is merely reacting and not planning proactively according to trend analyses.
That is one of the reasons why there are disgruntled parents every year in certain areas, like Pretoria North, who must compete for a place in a limited number of schools.
In another written question to the MEC for Education about the number of schools that were built between 2009/10 and 2020/21, Chiloane indicated that 164 new schools were built during that time, which brings the total number of public schools (excluding special schools) to 2 065.
So, less than 10% of the total number of public schools were built in the last ten years, while Gauteng’s population grew with more than 10% during the same period.
According to the University of Cape Town’s Children Count website, the number of children in Gauteng grew from 3 419 000 in 2010 to 4 417 000 in 2020 (http://childrencount.uct.ac.za/indicator.php?domain=1&indicator=1).
It points to a significant increase in the demand for public schools, which was simply not considered.
Totally transforming all Afrikaans schools to English will also not resolve the problem, seeing as there are only 127 single-medium Afrikaans schools left in Gauteng. It adds up to just more than 3% of all public schools.
It is, therefore, ludicrous to think that the solution to the problem of access to schools lies in transforming Afrikaans schools.
Instead, the Department of Education must, on the one hand, do proper planning to determine the demand for schools and, on the other hand, ensure that enough schools are built.
This is much more important than the squandering of precious public funds through corruption and fruitless expenditure, like the Covid-19 expenses incurred to supposedly sanitise schools.
The FF Plus will keep fighting to ensure the survival of mother-tongue education and Afrikaans schools, and will keep putting pressure on the ANC government to build more schools.
Read the original article in Afrikaans by Adv Anton Alberts on FF Plus