I attended four different primary schools. My parents were too poor to afford private school education but understood, too well, the limitations of South African Bantu Education.
As a result, they placed me on the waiting list of “posh” (suburban) government schools.
I was rejected based on “lack of capacity” and because I didn’t reside in a “feeder area”.
I started my schooling at a Bantu school, a two-minute walking distance from my house.
My English lessons were limited to “Madam, may I please go out?”, “My name is Thuletho Petunia Zwane, I live in Sebokeng. I have one mother, one father and one brother.”
My maths lessons were not very different. Problem sums were a rumour. Negative numbers did not exist. We were taught that [6-8] was “impossible” instead of negative two!
This is the low quality education still prevalent at many township schools.
In 2011, Rivonia Primary School refused to admit a grade one pupil saying it had no capacity. I am too familiar with the “no capacity” clause.
No capacity means that quality education is denied to poor people. It means the working class will remain working class as social barriers can only be crossed by quality education.
It seems to me it is the job of the middle class to ensure the underclass remains underclass.
Rivonia Primary School is implementing this oppression under the guise of the importance of an independent school governing body.
The Gauteng education department took the school to the Constitutional Court and argued that a state school remained a public resource even if additional funds were raised by parents to build extra classrooms or pay additional teachers.
South African public schools are segregated based purely on geographical locations – this is acceptable discrimination better known as “price discrimination” in academic literature.
You have to live in a rich area (or white area) to attend public schools in that area.
The South African Constitutional Court did not exist in 1992 and the country was not yet a democracy so my parents couldn’t take the “no capacity” claim to court (even if they had the resources to do this).
They tried the honest route and were advised to “enrol your child in a school close to your place of residence”. That loosely translates into: enrol your child into a Bantu school or take her to a private school.
Most black families in pre-1994 South Africa couldn’t spell private school, let alone afford it.
Their options were: A) Take their child to a Bantu school (read – correct district); B) Take their child to a private school (read – sell your house, car, work 2/3 jobs and kill the other child) or C) Fake documents regarding their place of residence so their child can have a fighting chance in this class-orientated world. My parents picked option C.
As a result I’ve made it to university and have the prospect of improving my life as well as that of my parents.
This is why I feel so strongly about the Rivonia primary school case. To me it smacks of elitism.
It is a constitutional matter that should be followed closely. The denial of quality education is an infringement of basic rights.