Johannesburg - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi hailed the "revolutionary" 30km radius which he said would now allow pupils to attend schools in areas which were previously inaccessible due to what Lesufi termed apartheid's repressive spatial planning.
Speaking in Johannesburg on Sunday, Lesufi also used the launch of the online applications for the 2020 academic year for Grade 1 and Grade 8 pupils to slam organisations which delayed the process by a week through legal notices, accusing these groups as being enemies of a non-racial education.
Applications go live on Monday, May 20 and close on July 22 at midnight, Lesufi said.
Lesufi said the department expected roughly 320 000 parents and guardians to apply using the online system -- 180 000 of whom would be for Grade 1 and 140 000 for Grade 8.
The MEC said the expanding of radius used to determine school feeder zones was a directive from the Constitutional Court, where the department had to consult with the school governing body associations, as well as the province's 3200 public schools.
"This (30km radius) is revolutionary. No child in Soweto will be denied the right to attend a school in Fourways because of where they were born... Apartheid was man-made system, and it will take man to fix it," Lesufi said.
The application process was meant to go live on May 13, but a last-ditch legal notice from civil groups AfriForum and Solidarity halted applications following objections to the admissions criteria, which included making language a key requirement, as well as home addresses superseding work addresses for applications.
Lesufi asserted that these objections were meant to keep black pupils out of former Model C schools, in favour of white Afrikaans-speaking children.
"Those people who thought that our children should be garden boys and tea girls are scared that our children will be actuarial scientists like their kids," Lesufi emphasised.
Together with the 30km radius, the other criterias to be used to place pupils at schools include:
- Home address, where parents can apply within a school's feeder zone within the home radius
- Sibling, where parents can send children to schools where siblings are already there, except if a pupils's sibling is in Grade 7 or Grade 12
- Work addresses, where parents can apply using their places of work, which are within feeder zones of schools they want to send their children to.