Hartley Road Primary School

DURBAN:THERE was an uproar on social media this week over an Overport public school allegedly admitting children from wealthy families ahead of those who live nearby.
Some parents raised concerns about Hartley Road Primary School’s admission practices with the Department of Education when they heard their applications had failed.

Others vented on Facebook, claiming that the school, which has an Islamic ethos, was known to maintain a high standard of education but reserved places for the elite.

Overport parents who posted on the Durban Muslims Facebook page were angry that so many pupils who lived outside the area were admitted while their children weren’t accepted.

Mohammed Mall, an Overport resident who administers the page, tried to enrol his child in the school for next year but was denied.

In a tongue-in-cheek post, he said he had visited a popular Durban restaurant to buy his daughter a place at the school but was turned away.

Mall said he objected to the area circuit manager and the principal.

“Not every parent can afford to send their children to elite Islamic private schools which charge more than R30000 a year for tuition. There are parents who got their kids into the school just because they are high-income earners.

“When considering applications, they look at the parents’ earnings. It is a public school. They should treat all applications alike,” he said.

He said it was ludicrous that lift clubs transported children from far while those on the school’s doorstep had to be educated elsewhere.

“How are these pupils getting into the school?”

Another disgruntled parent, Shoaib Mahomed, posted that he was first in line for an application form three years ago, but his was eventually rejected.

He said he was told pupils who had siblings at the school got preference.

Sadiya Ramjan’s Facebook post read: “This is the closest school to us. Why should we have to go to other schools? If children who live in the vicinity and whose parents were there on the first day of admissions didn’t make it, then who did?”

Haseena Jeewa said on Facebook she would also take the matter up with the Department of Education if she got no response from the school.

“What’s amazing is that they send a chain SMS saying your application was unsuccessful. When you go to the school to enquire, you get a vague letter asking you to apply elsewhere.

“If you insist on an explanation, you’re asked to write a letter to the principal,” said Jeewa.

KZN Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said parents who had problems with a school’s admissions should report them to the circuit manager.

He would not answer questions on the department’s jurisdiction and school admissions policies and abruptly cut the call.

A circuit manager who asked not to be named said it was common knowledge that the department’s policies stated that pupils who lived in the same area as the school should be given preference.

He said the schools were allowed to enrol pupils from other areas only if they had space.

“If pupils from areas outside Overport were accepted ahead of locals, it is an issue that needs to be addressed. The circuit manager for the area must handle the matter,” he said.

The school’s principal, Imtiaz Saib, said he could not comment due to departmental policies.

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE