After almost a month languishing at home and pressure from his single mother, a 16-year-old from Oakdene has been accepted to study at his preferred school, the Western Cape Sports School (WCSS).
This after the Western Cape Education Department rescinded its decision to place the pupil at Sarepta High School – where, according to the boy’s mother, his older brother degenerated into drug addiction and gangsterism – and Silversands High School, which his mother says is too far from home.
Newron Anthony’s mother, Joanne, feared her son, just like his late older brother, would be vulnerable to the influence of drugs and gangsterism at Sarepta High School – where Newron had been placed by the WECD in mid-January.
Ms Anthony had demanded to know from education officials why Newron had not been accepted at either her preferred WCSS, less than 1km from her home, or, at the very least, Soneike High School.
Responding to a Northern News query on Thursday February 10, WCED spokeswoman Bronagh Hammond initially said it would be impossible to place all pupils at schools of their choice and that Soneike High had been “oversubscribed and can’t accommodate more learners”.
A few hours later, in another response, she said Newron had now been accepted and would study at WCSS as from Friday November 11.
Asked why it had taken so long for the school to accept him, Ms Hammond said: “I wouldn’t say they ’took so long’ – he wasn’t accepted, and then they had to wait (on) who had arrived to take up places and could only confirm thereafter.
“The school could not accept a learner without confirming the deregistration of another. That is common sense.”
She stressed that not all parents could get their children into schools of their choice.
Ms Anthony, a single mother, had accused WCSS of stonewalling her application. She also claimed that the Soneike High application had been withdrawn without her knowledge.
Ms Anthony said she had applied early in 2021 to enrol Newron at WCSS, but, later, realising that months had gone by with no response, she had applied at Soneike High School.
Accompanied by community activists last month, she approached the WCED district and provincial offices, seeking answers.
Ms Anthony and community activist Isaac Jenecke sent multiple enquiries to provincial and district officials, including the department’s chief education specialist Mark Mofoking, who promptly demanded answers from officials, an email exchange shows.
Mr Jenecke said they had called for a probe into how the Soneike High application had allegedly been withdrawn without Ms Anthony’s knowledge.
In an email exchange with Ms Anthony, Mr Mofoking, Mr Jenecke and other officials, WCED administrative clerk Ulrich Hockey says the pupil was placed at the Sarepta High School and Silversands High School, in mid-January, but Ms Anthony had not been pleased with the choices. He notes that the department can’t guarantee a parent’s school of choice and Soneike is “well oversubscribed and can’t accommodate more learners”. He adds: The district office has done its duty in informing the parent of available space.”
Asked whether Ms Anthony’s claim that that the Soneike High application was withdrawn without her knowledge would be investigated, Ms Hammond said: “It must also be recognised that it is the school governing body that determines the admission policy of the school.”