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Rivonia school's admissions saga heats up

A ConCourt battle looms between Rivonia Primary and Gauteng Education Dept over admissions policy.

Rivonia Primary principal Carol Drysdale speaks to her lawyers during a disciplinary hearing on 11 September 2012. Picture: Alex Eliseev/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Wednesday said governing bodies could not be allowed to privatise public schools, regardless of whether parents paid extra to keep classes small.

A Constitutional Court battle is looming between Rivonia Primary School and the Gauteng Education Department over admission policy.

At the heart of the case lies a disagreement over who has the final say about a school's capacity.

Motshekga said if parents wanted to pay extra for small classrooms, they should send their children to private schools.

“If it means changing the law, we are going to change this law. 

“It’s not because we want to fight Rivonia Primary, but on principle, it just can’t be.”

Meanwhile, Rivonia Primary has slammed as "unfounded" and "abusive" allegations by the Gauteng Education Department that it is manipulating the system to hold on to an advantage gained during apartheid.

The school's governing body on Wednesday filed legal papers to oppose the department's application to have the case heard by the highest court in the land, after a scathing judgment that went against government at the Supreme Court of Appeal. 

The matter was sparked by the school refusing to admit a grade one pupil in 2010, and could have widespread implications across the country. 

In its papers, Rivonia Primary argued they were simply enforcing the laws set by the department.

It accused the department of not spending the money it got, and urged it to build more schools instead of damaging those it said offered a quality education.

The Constitutional Court will have to weigh up a school's right to offer quality education versus the department's duty to place every child in a classroom.

With inland schools having opened on Wednesday, the issue is likely to come into sharp focus in the coming weeks. 

The department will over the next few weeks be forced to place tens of thousands of pupils who were unable to register or were rejected by schools. 

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