Rustenburg Girls’ Junior School (RGJS) has been highly criticised for suggesting that a black pupil would not fit in at the prestigious school after a generous couple reached out and offered to pay for all 12 years of the underprivileged girl’s fees.
One of the concerns that was raised in an email to the donors in 2015 was that “friendships at school often result in play dates, which can also become tricky because of the distance in travel, and result in a child feeling isolated and excluded”.
“We wish to help one small child to have a chance in the world,” the couple said.
In response, admissions officer and secretary to the headmistress Gill Cook said: “Thank you for considering RGJS. We have had pupils who have benefited from sponsorship and share the following concerns:
“There is often a lack of real support at home on many levels – management of homework, contracting reliable transport to and from school and participation in events after school hours.” But on Tuesday, Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the girl’s age (3) had actually played a major role.
“The matter regarding the financing of the pupil by the donor is not a prerequisite for immediate admission. If Linah had applied, then her application would be considered.
“If she was then accepted, the financing of her school fees would be considered in terms of the donors’ contribution.”
The same year the school is believed to have received a second inquiry from another donor and gave them the same advice. The donor kept in contact, submitted application papers this year and the child was accepted for admission for next year.
Former SGB member and associate professor at Stellenbosch University Nuraan Davids said when they questioned the school about its admissions practices, they were told: “They look at old girls, they look at race, they look at (the parents’) profession (to assess ability to pay school fees).
Suggestions concerning setting up a scholarship program for underprivileged girls was shut down by school management.