Gauteng Education Department changes tune over capacity after pressure by FEDSAS

01/09/2023 - Fedsas

The quick about turn over an absurd decision on schools’ capacity by the Gauteng Education Department following pressure by FEDSAS is proof that established role-players with proven expertise will play an increasingly significant role with storm clouds brewing over the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELAB).

The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) reacted immediately after the Gauteng Education Department pushed through a unilateral decision on the capacity of schools. Earlier this week, several schools in the province received letters from the provincial education department to inform them that these schools are under capacity and in some cases would have to accommodate hundreds of additional learners.

In a letter to the provincial education department, FEDSAS place the determination of capacity in dispute and demanded an assurance from the department that parents and guardians would not be informed of placement for next year on Monday (4 September 2023) since it would lead to chaos and unmet expectations.

“Today (1 September 2023), the Gauteng Education Department, through its acting Head of Department, Mr Rufus Mmutlana, informed us that placement for next year will take place according to capacity as indicated by schools. FEDSAS is grateful that the absurd decision was revoked. We also undertake to encourage our members to enter into discussions with the department where there are reasonable requests by the department,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, CEO of FEDSAS.

Deacon says although the admission process in Gauteng continues it will be based on more realistic numbers. “However, FEDSAS will keep an eye on the entire process. We will not hesitate to act should education officials try to exceed their authority again or try to bully schools.”

At a FEDSAS members’ meeting in Gauteng last night (31 August 2023), schools indicated that they were prepared to support legal action should it be necessary. “If FEDSAS did not act, the provincial department would have walked over schools. This remains a big concern in terms of some of the amendments in BELAB.”

Deacon says although FEDSAS member schools and FEDSAS’s knowledgeable team are equipped and on the front foot for possible unlawful actions, there are still thousands of public schools that are not prepared for or informed of what to look out for. “FEDSAS has already appointed a legal team for a possible court case should BELAB become a law. However, schools cannot sit back and think it is enough that organisations like FEDSAS fight on their behalf. Schools will have to budget for their own legal costs. It is here, on ground level, that expert support is necessary. For more than 30 years, FEDSAS has been an acknowledged collective voice for the governing bodies that are members of the organisation. However, the louder this voice is, the better the chances of success.” 

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