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Selective admission to schools isn’t a bad thing

Ideas

Selective admission to schools isn’t a bad thing

I understand the knee jerk reaction to admission tests at some Cape Flats schools, but we do need pockets of excellence

Columnist

Should schools administer selection tests for admission?

Mondale High School is located in Portlands, Mitchells Plain, a rough neighbourhood of the Cape Flats. So, it was not expected that Mondale would unleash a hot debate on social media by announcing that primary school applicants for grade eight, the first year of high school, would sit for admissions tests. Poor and working-class schools cannot afford to do selection tests. Many such schools need the enrolment numbers to justify their teacher posts or the salary levels of a principal. Others simply could not care given the many other things to worry about like gang violence on the outside and disciplinary problems on the inside of these troubled schools.

My first instinct was to join the long list of activists on Facebook crying foul. Public schools should not subject children to the pressure of selection tests. It is against expressed policy. It discriminates against those who come from dysfunctional primary schools, in effect blaming the children for substandard teaching in the earlier grades. Then there are the late bloomers, like me, who might not have made the cut. The longer I stayed in school (and university), the better I got at it. A lot of parents, desperate to get their children into at least one of the few outstanding schools on the Cape Flats, were hopping mad about these admission tests...

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