Tomorrow, Wednesday 17 June at 10am, the Constitutional Court will hand down judgment in the Pridwin Preparatory School case. The judgment will not only affect elite independent schools, but will also have consequences for the rights of pupils from poor and working-class families who attend low-fee independent schools.
The case concerns the manner in which the independent school terminated the contract it had entered into with the parents of two learners of the school, and the impact of such a termination on the rights of the learners. Due to a dispute between the school and the parents, the school sought to exclude the learners, relying on a provision in their contract with the parents that allowed the school to terminate the contract “for any reason”.
Equal Education (EE) was successfully admitted as amicus curiae when the case was heard in the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng. EE, represented by the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), demonstrated that low-fee independent schools are growing in South Africa, and highlighted that broad, open-ended contract termination clauses as the one used in this case, do not ensure that the right to education is protected, and that the obligation to ensure the best interests of the child is taken into account is upheld.
The High Court dismissed the parents’ case in 2017, and the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) dismissed the parents’ appeal in 2018. EE did not participate in the appeal to the SCA.
The parents then lodged an application for leave to appeal, in the Constitutional Court.
As amicus curiae in the appeal before the Constitutional Court, EE made submissions on the constitutional obligations and duties of private schools. Our submissions to the Constitutional Court highlighted:
- The context and implications of increased privatisation of education in South Africa, and in particular the rise of low-fee independent schools.
- The relationship between sections 29(1) and 29(3) of the Constitution and the obligations that independent schools hold in relation to the right to basic education.
- The obligation that independent schools must maintain standards that are not inferior to the standards in public schools, and that such standards include affording a child a hearing before they are removed from a school.
For further information, contact:
Tad Khosa (EE Law Centre Media and Communications Coordinator) 081 346 0180 email@example.com
Leanne Jansen-Thomas (Equal Education Head of Communications) 079 4949 411 firstname.lastname@example.org