FEDSAS issues ultimatum to Gauteng Education Department over unilateral determination of schools’ capacity: This is a taste of the abuse of power possible with BELAB.

31/08/2023 - Fedsas

Schools in Gauteng got a taste of what can be expected once the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELAB) places certain powers in the hands of heads of education. Several schools in Gauteng received letters that informed the school that it was under capacity in terms of the number of learners. The schools were also informed about the specific number of additional learners the school must accommodate.

“This determination of capacity is completely arbitrary. No reasons were provided for how the officials made this determination,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, CEO of FEDSAS (the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools). “One of our member schools that is already at capacity received instruction that they should accommodate hundreds of additional learners as, according to the department, the school is only at 56% capacity.”

Deacon says parents and guardians will receive an SMS from the Gauteng Education Department on Monday (4 September 2023) to inform them of their children’s placement for next year. “Not only will this create chaos when learners are placed in schools that cannot accommodate them, but it also raises the prospect of unmet expectations for parents, guardians and learners.”

In light of this, FEDSAS sent an urgent letter to the Gauteng Education Department, placing in dispute the entire determination of capacity. “We require an urgent assurance that no messages will be sent to parents and guardians on 4 September 2023. In fact, no communication about placements may take place until the dispute over capacity has been resolved. Should FEDSAS not receive such an assurance the organisation will bring an urgent application before the court on behalf of its members.”

Deacon says this unilateral decision by the Gauteng Education Department brings to the fore the underlying political agenda with BELAB. “One of the main points of contention with BELAB is that the authority of school governing bodies to determine language and admission policy will move to provincial education departments. And here we can see exactly what is going to happen. It is also interesting to note that most of the schools that received letters about their capacity are top schools that function properly.”

 In its presentation on BELAB to the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education, FEDSAS pointed out that clear guidelines for determining capacity in schools are lacking in the proposed amendments. The current lack of proper norms and standards for capacity determination has also been confirmed by the Constitutional Court. FEDSAS submitted a detailed proposal for capacity determination as part of its written submission to the portfolio committee.

“For years FEDSAS has been alerting the Gauteng Education Department to the fact that not enough schools are being built in the province. This was disregarded and now there are simply not enough schools in the province. The department’s solution is to shift the problem to schools, and especially schools that function well.”

Deacons says FEDSAS will continue to fight to protect the interests of its members. “So many problems in education in our country are caused by education officials’ poor management and lack of judgement. The ideal of quality education for all children in South Africa is obtainable if only the government will take seriously the instruction of cooperative management as contained in the Schools’ Act.”

Copyright FEDSAS 2024 | NPO Registration No. 128-598NPO | NWO-registrasienr 128-598NPO | Privacy Policy