An estimated ten thousand Gauteng learners are applying to enter a provincial school for the first time Wednesday morning. These learners are only starting the late registration process today.
Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi has committed to placing all pupils by the end of the month. This is as the academic year kicks off in inland provinces.
Gauteng has the second-highest number of learners in the country. The already strained education system is burdened with inward migration.
Seeing more pupils move into the area, the province needs another hundred new schools to accommodate the high demand. It saw 102 000 new pupils enter the system this year.
700 online applicants remain unplaced. But the department says it’s committed to placing every pupil.
“The 700 we need to place as the department, we’re putting firm commitment to placing them before the end of the month. Not lack of planning and lack of schools, we have a phenomenal caused choice and people wanting to come to Gauteng,” says Lesufi.
More pupils today
It’s estimated a further 10 000 pupils are only starting the late registration process today.
“We have planned for these parents who may have not applied at all. And have left schools who have space to accommodate them,” explains Gauteng Education Spokesperson Steve Mabona.
The province has undertaken to convert temporary mobile units at schools into brick and mortar classrooms to ensure that every learner has a desk.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the education sector with an estimated three years of curriculum lost due to the lockdown and rotational learning.
“Deeply concerned that if we do not get back to some form of normalcy and have all the children back at school will have a serious impact,” says Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
This morning a new school in Sedibeng welcomed back its learners to a new improved smart facility.
Gauteng department of education to finalise pupil placement for 2022:
Another blow for parents in Tshwane
Meanwhile, parents of learners, who couldn’t secure placement at various schools in the Tshwane region, have suffered another blow.
A group of disgruntled parents waited outside Hoerskool Akasia at Theresa Park in Pretoria North to demand the placement of their children. Some have been going to the school since Monday after applying online last year, but are still awaiting a reply.
The Gauteng Education Department says some parents rejected the placement offer, citing different reasons, including distance. Parents are calling on the department to improve or do away with the online application system for grades one and eight learners.
A parent says, “I feel like it is very unfair for people who live near the school to be sent somewhere else. And we live about 6 to 8 minutes drive distance while those coming from other areas are offered space here which is not understandable. It’s clear that people help them with residential so that they can get spaces for their children.”
The department says over 270 000 learners have been successfully placed.
Affected learners also joined their parents to demand admission to Hoerskool Akasia. Some of them were already in full uniform. Others say they do not live far from the school, but the department has placed them elsewhere. 16-year-old Lethabo Modiselle is one of them.
“I’m here to get placed at the school. First of all, I want to apply because it’s very near to my home. The other school is very far and couldn’t manage my time properly. It’s very hard for me to come every single and being told there’s no place and then having to go back home without knowing whether I’m gonna go to school or not it’s very hard.”
At district offices, big crowds of concerned parents had to join long queues in an attempt to get feedback from department officials about the placement of their children.
‘Officials far too slow’
The uncontrolled situation led to the deployment of police at the Ga-Rankuwa district office where parents accused department officials of being far too slow in resolving the crisis.
“I think the biggest elephant in the room for all the frustrations that we have, is the district officials. They are the ones who are messing up everything. Their office is based in Garankuwa, and there are many learners who are from Garankuwa, Soshanguve, Winterfeldt and Mabopane who are being placed in Pretoria North (Akasia etc).”
“I haven’t gotten help. I’m being sent to the school, the school is sending me to the district office. They are playing a blame game. I want to know how we can resolve this so that learners can go to school,” complains one parent.
Parents are calling on the department to provide mobile classrooms to schools that are full in order to accommodate learners who are struggling to find placement close to home.
“If there’s no space for grade 8, why don’t they bring containers. We don’t mind as long as our kids can go to school to learn. Right now we did not even get the SMSes that they said we must wait for. Kids are misplaced.”
The department has dismissed claims by parents that the online system doesn’t work. It has blamed the situation on the growing shortage of schools in Gauteng due to the swelling population. -Additional reporting by Phanuel Shuma