Thousands wait to find new schools
HUNDREDS of frustrated parents queued from as early as 4.30am in Soweto yesterday trying to secure places for their children in time for the opening of schools tomorrow. By yesterday, 58 000 pupils in Gauteng had still not been placed in schools, with some parents being informed they may have to wait until April for a placement.
The parents gathered at the education district office to find out whether their children have been accepted at their school of choice.
This as the Gauteng Education Department conceded that at least 45 000 pupils in Grade 1 and 8 have still not been placed.
The desperate parents were left disappointed as the online application system at the office was off-line.
For this school year, parents with children going into grades 1 and 8 had to use an online application system to secure places at their school of choice. This has left some frustrated.
One parent, Leleti Nobela, said: “I have been queuing since 4.30am. I applied on time and have been waiting for an SMS to let me know if my child has been accepted. I came in November and they said they are off-line. I returned in December and was told the same thing. The office then said I should come back on January 9 and they are still off-line.” She applied for her child to start Grade 8.
Bella Tyamzashe said the department should revert to the old system where parents applied at schools and not via the online system. “My child is in Grade R and I still had to go to the district office to apply for her to continue in Grade 1 at the same school. How does that make sense?”
Tyamzashe said she was concerned as she was returning to work today. This worry was echoed by Lizzy Mawaye, who said: “My child is going into Grade 1. Who will take care of him when I am at work and she has not been placed yet? How do I make sure she has a space while I also have to be at work?”
Nobela said district officials had informed them that some of the children might only be placed by April. “Where is the child supposed to be during the time while I am at work? Why did the department introduce this system when parents never complained about standing in long queues outside schools before?,” she asked.
Gauteng education spokesperson Oupa Bodibe confirmed 58 000 pupils had still not been placed. “Some parents applied late and district offices are trying to sort that out. Most of the parents who went to the Joburg Central office were first-time applicants, so that’s why the system was off-line for them.”
He said the online system was not accessible to parents, but district officials were working hard behind the scenes to ensure all pupils were placed.
“Parents who are only applying today (Monday) won’t be placed this week. In the worst-case scenario, pupils will be placed by March, like last year. This is the risk parents take. We cannot be accused of not doing our work. We extended the application time and we gave parents with no internet access to libraries.”
At the end of 2015, 16 864 pupils were recorded as unplaced between grades 1 and 8. The number of applications increased in January last year, and 28 756 applications were recorded by January 12 last year.
Bodibe said that this year the Education Department had received 312 424 applications online, of which 176 292 were for Grade 1 and 136 132 or Grade 8. To date, 135 709 Grade 1 and 103 222 Grade 8 pupils have been placed.