Afrikaans speaking parents in Du Noon are having to spend thousands of rand on transport for their children to attend school in other areas as the local primary school only accepts Xhosa speakers.
As a result some parents say they are paying up to R8000 a year in transport fees for their children.
The Afrikaans-speaking parents – who comprise a significant proportion of Du Noon – said they wanted government to intervene and build another school in the area.
Charlene Flemmer, 34, a mother of a 19-year-old daughter and chairperson of the Du Noon Early Childhood Development centre, said she turned her RDP house into a crèche because even the crèches in the township did not cater for ‘coloured’, or Afrikaans-speaking children.
Flemmer said parents who wanted their children to attend Grade R had to enroll them in schools in Maitland, Bothasig, Brooklyn or Milnerton.
While the Wetsern Cape Education Department (WCED) provided transport for learners from Grade 1 upwards attending Vissershok Primary school near Durbanville, the service was not extended to Grade R learners, for which parents paid R350 a month to get them to Vissershok Primary.
For Du Noon children, Vissershok Primary is the only school for which the WCED provides transport for.
“It’s not fair, every year children and parents must suffer when children must start Grade R but it’s child education. They (local public schools) undermine coloured people, it’s similar to apartheid,” she said.
La Rochelle Peters, 33, is a mother of two children aged six and nine, said when she attempted to enroll her child at Du Noon’s Sophakama Primary School earlier this year she was told the school did not accommodate Afrikaans speaking children as they didn’t understand Xhosa.
“At Sophakama they told me Afrikaans is not the first language and they teach in in their first language Xhosa. So what must I do? I have to take my kids elsewhere while they could have attended school here near their home,” said Peters.
She questioned the WCED for not accommodating their children when building new schools.
She said their children have to work up very early in the morning to wait for the bus in the dark, exposing them to danger.
Sophakama Primary school principal Amos Siwayi said Xhosa was the schoo’s home language but lessons were taught in English.
Siwayi denied that he refused to admit first language Afrikaans speaking children.
“There is no record for that, maybe it’s just their assumptions,” said Siwayi.
“There is nothing like that (refusing to admit Afrikaans speaking learners). We even have foreign kids here who have excelled,” said Siwayi.
WCED director of communications Paddy Atwell said his department was aware of the demand for primary schooling in Afrikaans in the area.
“The WCED is currently providing transport for Afrikaans-speaking children to Vissershoek Primary. The department is considering an application from the school to include Grade R learners in this transport,” said Atwell.
He said the WCED took a decision two years ago to encourage parents to enroll Afrikaans speaking high school learners at Bloubergrant Secondary but only one leaner enrolled at the time.
However, he said he expected this to change as the primary school children progressed to high school and the WCED would adjust its plans accordingly.
Asked if schools could refuse to admit learners due to their home language, Atwell said school governing bodies may decide on the languages of instruction at the school. — Peter Luhanga