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Parents split over proposed School Admissions Policy

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The most contentious issue is the issue of proof of vaccination.

Empty classroom.
More than 5000 parents have shared their input on the proposed School Admissions Policy; many are split over the proof of vaccination issue. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

MORE than 5 000 people have voiced their opinion on the Department of Education’s (DBE) proposed amendments to the Schools Admission Policy, which if signed into legislation will force parents to provide proof of vaccination before the child is accepted into any school.

Dear South Africa is a platform designed to enable citizens to shape government policy in the correct direction. It has now included the Schools Admissions Policy proposal issue on the platform to allow for South Africans to share their objections, alternative solution and input on the matter.

Included in the amendments is the language issue which now prohibits schools from turning away children because of language barriers. It also proposes changes in laws regarding how documented and undocumented non-South African children should be admitted, it deals with the school zoning – which means pupils closer to an area where the school gets first preference.

However, the most contentious issue is the issue of proof of vaccination.

“If a parent is unable to show proof of immunisation, the principal must immediately advise the parent in writing to have the pupil immunised as part of the free primary healthcare programme.

“If the parent refuses or fails, within seven days from the date of the written communication referred to above, to submit proof of immunisation, the principal must not admit the pupil to the school and must refer the matter to the head of the department for further direction,” the proposed amendments state.

So far, 5 347 participants have shared comments on the online platform about the admissions policy.

To comment, one is required to give their name and the issue on which they are commenting.

Munya wrote: “Why should vaccination certificates be part of admission if there Is freedom of choice with regards to vaccination?”

Others also agreed with Munya, saying they do not agree with this proposed enforcement as it stripped the rights of the parents. Many of the objections were are rooted by concern over the Covid-19 vaccination which has arrived in the country and is in the first phase of distribution – among healthcare workers.

Tarina wrote: “Children cannot be expected to take the Covid-19 vaccine as a requirement for admission to schools because most children will never get access to vaccines (last in the row with planned roll-outs of government). Apart from that glaring practicality, it is also unconstitutional to force citizens to take vaccines.”

Other’s agreed with the DBE’s proposal.

Cherryl said: “I agree that certificates of childhood vaccination should be produced as they have stood the test of time and proved their efficacy. This is not true of present, rapidly produced vaccines and can always be revisited at a later date when much more data will be available.”

While Analita said: “By passing this law government is indirectly forcing citizens to vaccinate despite this being against many individuals religious beliefs. The current covid vaccine is currently being rolled out even without sufficient testing and knowledge of long-term side-effects. Every child has the right to education and one should not discriminate based on health history”.

Closing date for input on the matter is March 19.