Vetting of learners before admission to state schools is discriminatory

Niël Terblanché

The practice of vetting learners before admission to state schools is extremely discriminatory in nature and denies some children access to the schools of their choice.

The Executive Director of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Sanet Steenkamp said the Ministry’s rules of admission for children have not changed since 2010.

Steenkamp said this in a circular issued last week on the admission of learners in state schools to guide Education Regional Directors, Inspectors of Education, School Principals and parents to plan and administer the admission process.

“It has come to our attention that some schools are subjecting learners to entry tests, orally or written, in order to select the best learners. Such practices are discriminatory in nature because they deny some learners access to schools of their choice,” she said.

Steenkamp referred to the Circular Form. Ed. 8 of 20 I 0, and stated that it has not been withdrawn and is still in force.

She stressed that circular guides school principals in instances where a large number of learners apply for a certain Grade with limited spaces that at least 20 percent of the learners that must be admitted should be children who did not perform well in the previous Grade.

“No learner should be denied access to a school on any basis other than a lack of space in the school or if the field of study is not offered at the school,” she stressed.

The Executive Director said that the circular and the Education, Act 2001 (Act No. 16 of 2001), summarises the correct application procedures.

According to the circular, the various regions must start with admission campaigns in May of each year.

Between May to July, parents or guardians should have obtained an application form from the school, which should have been completed in conformity with the guidelines provided.

Upon application, schools would be required to inform parents about the outcome of their application by the end of August.

Parents, whose children did not obtain space at a school of their choice, should approach the respective regional office of the Directorate of Education, Arts and Culture.

Regional admission committees are required to identify feeder schools within the region to make proper projections to plan for the placement of learners from the region. These projections should take into consideration learners who may be unsuccessful.

Learners that are already attending school where the next grade exists, will automatically have place i n the next grade, except i n cases where parents move from one region to another. In such cases, applications should be supported by a letter of transfer from parents or legal guardians.

The principal of the new school where such a child is being transferred should request the cumulative record card of the newly enrolled learner from the previous school.

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