Johannesburg - The battle between Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Afrikaans rights groups AfriForum and Solidarity looks set to rage on following continued racist undertones as online applications open on Monday in the province.
On Sunday, Lesufi used the launch of the online applications for the 2020 academic year for Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners to slam the organisations, which delayed the process by a week through legal notices, accusing these groups of being enemies of non-racial education.
The delays to the application system, which was meant to go live last Monday, follow a legal notice that AfriForum and the Solidarity Movement's School Support Centre (SMSSC) sent to the provincial government objecting to some of the criteria used by the department to place learners in schools.
These objections include AfriForum's fight to have a school's language medium of instruction to be factored in when placing learners in the aforementioned grades.
Lesufi said these objections were meant to keep black learners 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 said.
However, Carien Bloem, the education spokesperson for AfriForum and the SMSSC, hit back at Lesufi, saying that the MEC was the one engaging in "hidden political agendas”, and that the two organisations wanted to preserve mother-tongue education and parents' rights “to choose quality education for their children”.
“We are very disappointed in what the MEC said because he is always making it about Afrikaans, apartheid and white privilege.
"So, if he says things like the things he said, then we can't help but wonder if he is not the one with the hidden agenda,” Bloem said.
Lesufi had added that he would not shy away from “a battle” with those groups which he accused of hindering his vision for a non-racial education system.
Bloem said, however, that the rights groups would stand firm on what they believed in, “and if he (Lesufi) wants to take us on, he must come and do it”.
Meanwhile, Lesufi said there were 320000 places which parents would be applying for from today until the applications close on July 22, with 180000 for Grade 1 and 140000 for Grade 8.
He said that from August 31 to September 30, parents who applied would start receiving SMS notifications of where their children had been placed.@khayakoko88