Pretoria - MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi has laid down the law for school governing body (SGB) members who wanted to make policies that were racist in nature.
Lesufi attended a meeting with disgruntled black parents from Montana Park who were complaining about the MEC’s online application process introduced this year for Grade 1 and 8 pupils.
The meeting was held at Hoërskool Montana, an Afrikaans medium school implicated in allegations of racism made by parents.
The parents said that Hoërskool Montana and Hoërskool Overkruin used the online system to ensure that a large majority of white pupils were accepted while telling black pupils that they applied too late and were therefore rejected.
The parents also accused the SGB of using its power to make policies that allowed them to exclude black children from attending the school.
For example, the schools only have one English class and the rest in Afrikaans, which allows them to accept only a limited number of English-speaking students. This, according to the parents, amounted to the two Afrikaans schools refusing to transform.
When asked who had the power to handle admissions, the SGB or the government, Lesufi ruefully said the power was held by the SGB as per the Constitution.
“This year I am leading a team with other MECs and the minister and we are in the process of changing that particular law,” Lesufi said to loud applause.
“I am here to reverse everything Hendrik Verwoerd has done. You can take me to court; I will meet you there.”
The meeting was intended for Lesufi to hear out the parents’ frustrations about their treatment during the application process.
When the parents complained that a large percentage of black children had been rejected by the schools and how an unfair process was at the fore in these rejections, the parents concluded that Hoërskool Overkruin and Hoërskool Montana did not want to transform.
“The people we want to reconcile with, some of them don’t want to reconcile with us,” Lesufi said.
This was after a parent had asked who had the final say on admissions and he replied it was the SGB - the same SGBs the parents said were coming up with policies that allow them not to transform.
“We avoided a bloodbath by saying we will stay where we are so we could have peace but it seems that some people think we are stupid because of this,” Lesufi said.
“We said that we would rather remain where we are so that everyone can be happy with peace in our country, but there are some people who feel that for us to compromise and sacrifice, it looks like we are stupid. We need to deal with those things.”