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No bitterness over Rivonia ConCourt ruling

Rivonia Primary says its battle against govt over admissions was money and time well spent.

Civic societies have welcomed the ruling that state schools must be open to everyone.

JOHANNESBURG - Rivonia Primary School's governing body says its battle against government over admissions was money and time well spent despite a defeat at the Constitutional Court.

The court ruled on Thursday that the education department had the final say over classroom capacity, even if school governing bodies created their own admission policies.

The case tested the balance between a school's desire to offer quality education versus the department's duty to place every child behind a desk.

The Constitutional Court judgment ends a two-year battle and criticises both the department and Rivonia Primary.

But the school governing body's Rickson Mboweni says it also reaffirms that a head of department can't act outside the law.

"Whether the department deals with schools going forward, they will need to know that they can't act arbitrarily and will have to follow processes and are subject to the law."

Civic societies have welcomed the ruling saying state schools must be open to everyone.

Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy says her department has no plans to increase the number of pupils in classrooms.

At the same time, there are warnings that school admissions could lead to bigger classrooms in government schools.

The case was launched by Rivonia Primary after it was forced to admit a grade one pupil it had tried to turn away.

But Jaco Deacon, who represents the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA, is not convinced.

"As long as the department doesn't address the issue of poor performing schools the pressure will always be on the schools that are performing."

Civic societies say the judgment ensures that public schools are open to everyone and there's less chance for them to discriminate against pupils based on their race or class.

The legal battle explored the balance between qualities of education versus the right to education.

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