Many parents of black learners have had to lie about their place of residence in order to secure quality education for their children. There is no longer the need for many of such parent to tell this lie after the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Gauteng matter of school’s feeder zone.
The ruling leaves the department of education in full control of determining the feeder zone for schools beyond the prevailing 5km stipulation.
The department went to court to defend its mission to mission of creating equitable feeder zones that allow children from less economically marginalised areas to attend school in affluent areas. The matter went to court after the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) objected to new feeder zoned regulations arguing that these encroach into the area of School Governing Bodies (SGBs).
For the department and Equal Education which joined the matter amicus curiae style (friend of the court), this matter was about ensuring equity in the education system.
Welcoming the Constitutional Court ruling, the Equal Education (EE) said the judgement opens “the door for more equitable access to education that does not simply perpetuate race and class privilege along apartheid geographical lines.”
The MEC for education in Gauteng was elated and posted on his Facebook a comment saying “We won… we finally broke the backbone of apartheid planning. Today all our schools belong to all our children NOT the privileged few. The judgement empowers us, as government, to declare new feeder zones thus burying the transitional 5km radius. No parent will be asked a salary slip before their children are admitted in our schools. The best gift as we observe the 40th Anniversary of 16th June Uprisings.”
The departments official reaction to the ruling said “In simple terms the judgement confirms that all schools are open to our children regardless of income status, academic performance or race.
“The court found that the regulations are ‘rational, justifiable, reasonable and lawful,’”
The statement added that “This places beyond doubt the fact the department is the custodian of public education policy and has the final say on admission issues. Admission into schools is a collaborative effort between the Department, schools and the SGB. However, in the final analysis it is the Department’s duty to run the public school system to afford every child their right to learn.”
The Court ordered the department to determine feeder zones within 12 months of the judgement.