New school feeder zone regulations to ensure fair access

The new school feeder zone regulations announced by the Gauteng Education Department (GDE) will ensure fair access to schools, says MEC Panyaza Lesufi.

Making the announcement on Sunday, Lesufi said the new regulations mean that children will not be discriminated against based on where they live.

“Approval of the said regulations implies that our schools will be easily transformed and as such learners will access quality education and be treated the same way and which will also necessitate same opportunities,” said Lesufi.

According to the MEC, the key changes in the regulations are:

· To affirm the power of the HOD to administer admissions in the province.

· Outlaws all forms of unfair discrimination.

· Delegates the authority of determining feeder zones to the department.

· Enables the management of admissions in entry phase grades through an online admissions process.

· Finally, there are technical adjustments to bring it in line with court case judgement.

· It clarifies criteria of placement of learners.

· Following the approval of the regulations by the Gauteng Legislature, the GDE will gazette the amendments to the admissions regulations.

“The commencement of the amended regulations will be effective from the date of publication. The 2020 admissions process will be conducted under the provisions of the amended admission regulations,” said Lesufi.

The consultative process for the feeder zone determination was accommodative to everyone who participated. The MEC established a feeder zone task team, consisting of officials from GDE and external stakeholders representing Governing Body Associations (NASGB, FEDSAS and GBF); STATSSA; Equal Education; Premiers Office (Spatial Planning); GCRA and the Municipal Demarcation Board participated.

Accordingly, about 2 067 maps were finalised and published. However, about 334 schools contested their proposed feeder zones, and fortunately their concerns were addressed.

“We must emphasise that the adjudicating process was in favour of 90 percent of schools that contested and recommended adjustments, which were implemented accordingly,” said the MEC.

Lesufi said the remaining 10% of schools misinterpreted their feeder zones, confusing the 30km application radius with the feeder zone determination which was not provided for in terms of the criteria for determining feeder zone. The confusion was swiftly resolved.

During the admissions application process, the said amended regulations are intended to assist learners to access a school, in compliance with the set criteria which is:

(1) if their place of residence is closest to the school within the feeder zone;

(2) has a sibling in the school;

(3) the place of employment of at least one parent of the applicant is within the feeder zone;

(4) learner’s place of residence is within 30km radius of the school, indeed this will depend on space availability; and

(5) learner’s place of residence is beyond a 30km radius of school, once more space availability will be a determining factor.

Publication of feeder zones dictates that, schools will have to submit their admission policies to the HOD for ratification within 90 days.

However, there will be transitional arrangements for the implementation of revised school policies, this will provide the department with an opportunity to mediate the new requirements with schools on how to draft the new admissions policies.

“Feeder zone determination play a significant role in ensuring that access to our schools is fair, transparent and conducted in an equitable manner.

“Our officials and stakeholders contributed immensely to the successful consultative process and we are excited that all concerns raised during this vigorous process were addressed,” said the MEC. – SAnews.gov.za