The Department of Education is confident that learning and teaching will commence promptly across the country. Officials say they are ready, and it’s all systems go for the 2020 school year.

However, they will also be on high alert for any disruptions that could occur over late registrations and placements.

The Department of Education anticipates an influx of families heading to Gauteng at this time of year, and say with that comes new learners who will need placement in schools.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says they are allowing late registrations until the 24th of this month.

Lesufi says the online system, which has been a topic of controversy amongst some parents, has actually worked well as all those who applied on time for Grade 1 and 8, have been placed.

“There is no single child that has not been placed that applied through our online registration. The biggest challenge is what we call choice. So if the school can accommodate 240 learners, and there are 4000 people that have applied, the 3000 odd that could not be taken, we have placed them at schools similar to the ones they applied in. And now there is a new trend of parents saying they will dump their children at those schools and you will see to finish. And we really believe it’s reckless behaviour.”

In an attempt to place learners in some of the schools that were in demand, principals and SGBs were asked to increase the number of learners in their classrooms, or accommodate mobile classrooms.

Lesufi says they have done everything possible to ensure a smooth start to the first day of school, adding that learning and teaching should commence without any disruption:

“We have managed to buy all the necessary equipment that is required. These include our smartboards, our tablets. But most importantly, the learning and teaching material that learners need to have. We are proud that as a province, there will be no learner without a textbook or no learner without stationery.”

Meanwhile, the National Department of Education says – although they are confident teaching will commence smoothly – they are on high alert for any disruptions.

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says: “It looks like there will be some disruptions in certain areas where children are still not placed. In the Pretoria area, we saw that there was a meeting in one school, where the parents are still aggrieved. What is a problem is in KZN where we had those 81 schools which were damaged during the heavy rains that fell several weeks ago. So, the learners in those schools will be provided with mobile classrooms because the damage was so extensive.”

Nationally, there are over 900 primary schools that still have space and more than 300 high schools that can accommodate children who registered late. The Department has called upon parents to accept placement offers by these schools as these are the only spaces available.