There’s been much fanfare and celebration around the opening of a private school in Vosloorus.
Johannesburg – The Ayanda Junior Academy, which made headlines last week for being the first black-owned private school in Vosloorus, is operating illegally.
Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson Steve Mabona on Tuesday confirmed that the school has no licence, after its registration application was declined in April last year.
The school opened in January last year and has enrolled 248 learners from Grade R to Grade 2, who pay between R1450 and R1750 a month.
“The process of registration takes 90 days when the application is compliant and because this school did not comply, they received a letter declining their application on April 13, 2018,” said Mabona.
The owner of the school, Margery Tyobo, told The Star that its application was declined because their occupation certificate had not yet been approved.
Tyboo added that she applied for her school to be registered in 2016, before construction began, but received a response only in 2017, and the application was rejected only last year.
“It’s a long process that we are still busy with today, but I applied before I started building the school,” she said. Mabona said it was illegal for schools to operate without registering with the department.
“Also note that such a school will be risking the education of learners and financial exploitation of parents,” he said. Tyobo said it was “a well-known fact” with the parents that the school was not registered yet.
“The parents know because you must be open with your clients,” she said.
However, the parent of a former learner at the school, Mpho Kgongoana, 41, from Vosloorus, told The Star that she found out that the school was not registered only when she approached the department this year – after her child was kicked out because she didn’t pay a re-registration fee.
Kgongoana said her two children were previously enrolled in Ayanda pre-school before her eldest child started Grade 1 at the academy last year.
“When she (Tyobo) started the academy, I was taken by the idea of a black woman starting a private school in the township because my first-born is in a Catholic school far from where we live,” said Kgongoana.
On the first day of school this year, Kgongoana arrived with her sons, who were starting Grade 2 and Grade R, but were turned away for not paying the re-registration fee.
Kgongoana approached the Education Department over the matter.
“A gentleman (from the department) said ‘Go and find a lawyer and sue that woman. We have papers that say she was never supposed to even open the doors’. I was shocked.”
Kgongoana said she felt like an irresponsible parent because she had not researched the school or called the department before taking her children there.
“But when you have a history with someone, because they (her children) were in the preschool, I thought she (Tyobo) would do the right thing,” she said.
The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa said on Friday that the school was also not registered with their organisation.
“They wanted an occupational certificate to say the place is safe,” she said.
However, it has since emerged that the school is operating without the necessary licence.
Ayanda Primary School does not have an occupational certificate, a municipal-issued document.
Without this document, which is issued in line with the National Building Regulations to certify that a building has been completed in accordance with the approved building plan and all other relevant city council requirements, the Gauteng education department cannot issue the school with a licence, explains spokesperson Steve Mabona.
This simply means the school is not registered to operate.
In an interview with Thabo Mdluli on POWER Breakfast, Mabona says if there is no compliance, the school will have to be shut down.
“Unfortunately, the law compels us to close the school if it’s operating illegally. The municipality did not certify them to occupy the building, putting the learners at risk.”
He explains to Mdluli what the repercussions could be if the department licences the school without the necessary compliance certificate.
It is understood that the school’s founder, Margert Tyobo, has been trying to attain the necessary documentation to operate, but without success.