Newspaper clipping – The Daily News – 24 February 2010
Age Limit for Schools ?
Pupils as old as 17 and 21 are currently in Grade 8 and 10 classrooms among children where the average ages are 13 and 16 respectively.
All education specialists spoken to said that while the compulsory school-going age limit is 15, the schools were bound by the government’s policy of not denying children a right to basic education. All also agreed that other avenues such as Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) centres and technikons should be explored.
Anthony Pierce, National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa’s provincial CEO, said:
Professor Kobus Maree of the School of Education and the University of Pretoria pointed out that young adults were emotionally and sexually more advanced than their teenaged classmates. He said if they did not master the skills that schools were supposed to teach them, this would lead to intimidating situations for pupils and teachers.
Educational psychologist Anand Ramphal said young pupils would be susceptible to peer pressure and would impair good judgement and fuel risk-taking behaviour, luring teenagers into dangerous activities. During adolescence, he said, children practiced risk-taking behaviour because they were trying to find their own identity and become more independent. He said this made them vulnerable to experimenting with drugs and drinking, especially if there was peer pressure to do so.
Stokes said pupils with more than a two-year age gap in any grade was contrary to the Department of Education’s policy. He said the walls of leadership within schools was very important:
Sundrum Subramoney, Chatsworth chairman of the South African Principals’ Association, said schools were obliged to accept pupils and the new curriculum had not helped because there was no leeway for pupils to be automatically promoted to the next grade.
Sayed Rajack, chairman of the KZN Parents Association, said principals had a right to turn away pupils.
Rajack said an adult was less likely to take instruction from a figure of authority than a younger pupil. He agreed that ABET was another avenue for parents to explore, but said many parents chose the easiest and cheapest option of school admission.
According to a KZN Department of Education’s pupil admission policy for public schools, if a pupil is three years or more above the normal grade age, the principal, after consultation with the school governing body, may admit the pupil to an appropriate grade in the school or to a bridging programme if approved by a department ward manager.