Tensions simmered on Wednesday outside Hoërskool Overvaal in Gauteng‚ which has been at the centre of a language row.
A parent was punched by an EFF protester on Wednesday morning after he made an offensive gesture towards a group of protesting red beret supporters‚ after dropping off his daughter for #backtoschool2018.
There is a heavy police and private security presence outside the school entrance after the EFF and a few ANC members arrived in numbers and started protesting against the Afrikaans school’s language policy just meters from the gate. The police have created a barrier between the school gate and hundreds of protesters.
James van Heerden‚ the father of a Grade 8 pupil‚ said parents seeking to enrol their children at the school must look for alternative places that offered tuition in their preferred language.
“They must take ‘no’ for an answer because they tried and they didn’t win‚ so they can take their kids somewhere else. Every child has a right to learn in their home language and we don’t have a colour issue here‚ but they want to make it a colour issue. We’ve got black kids here who are prepared to learn in Afrikaans‚ so why don’t their kids do the same?” Van Heerden asked.
He said if parents want their children to learn in English‚ they should take them to English-speaking schools instead of causing “havoc” for the Afrikaans school’s executives.
However‚ another parent who wanted her daughter to enrol at the school‚ said the curriculum should be offered in English and not Afrikaans.
“The reason why we are here is to fight for the rights of our children. There can’t be a school which only accommodates one language. We have schools in the townships in Vereeniging which accommodate white pupils and they are taught in English‚ so why can’t they do the same?” asked the parent‚ who wanted to remain anonymous.
“The only thing we want to achieve is that our children are allowed to learn in this school because it’s the best school that our money can buy in this area. We want teachers to do their jobs and teach our kids in English so that it will be easy for them to understand‚” said a parent wearing ANC regalia.
Some parents had threatened to burn down the Vereeniging school after a Pretoria high court ruling earlier this week that the education department did not have the authority to unilaterally override the school’s language policy when in December‚ it ordered the school to take 55 English speaking pupils from the start of the new school year.
The court found that on the overwhelming weight of the evidence‚ the Afrikaans-medium school had no capacity to receive the English learners‚ let alone to do so at such short notice and to convert to a double-medium school.