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Court to hear dual language education bid

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The High Court in Johannesburg will hear an urgent application on Tuesday by the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools’ ( Afrikaans to halt the Gauteng Education Department’s plans to have some schools teach in two languages.

Fedsas is arguing that Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s plan to convert 124 single-medium schools into parallel-medium schools is illegal.

Lesufi has said the plan aims to address school overcrowding in the province.

It recently emerged from a leaked list of the schools that the plan primarily involved Afrikaans single-medium schools.

The application was made, according to Fedsas’ court papers, to halt Lesufi and the department from “unlawfully interfering with the statutory preserve of the SGBs [school governing bodies] in the determination of language and admission policies by the schools they serve”.

‘You can’t stop non-racialism’

Lesufi told reporters last week that Fedsas’ resistance to the plan was racially motivated.

“I believe it is a waste of the court’s time. You can’t stop non-racialism. If you want to have a school for only klein baases [small bosses], it is not going to succeed,” he said.

“The issue of language is a smokescreen to hide a specific race. It is a clear case that people are using one language to protect the privileges of the past.

“They are using language and culture to defend themselves so that other races cannot come to their schools.”

Lesufi said the case would be the first test of whether non-racialism worked in South Africa.

“If demographics around your school have changed, accept it. Go to all those schools. There is only one race. Is that how we want to build a non-racial South Africa?” he asked.

“I don’t think it’s wrong for our children to learn together and play together. If a court says otherwise, they will have entrenched racism forever.”

‘Why combine the issues of race and language’

Fedsas CEO Paul Colditz told News24 last week that the case had nothing to do with race or language.

“The claim that it has to do with race is absolute rubbish. Why combine the issues of race and language? The case isn’t [even] about language. It is about complying with the law.”

He said Lesufi had “other motives” with his plan.

“We will not speculate on his motives, but the facts do not add up. Some of these 124 schools are already parallel medium schools.”

Three of the schools on the leaked list told News24 last week that they had already converted to parallel medium schools, or were busy doing so. News24

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