Thou­sands wait to find new schools

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - TE­BOGO MONAMA te­

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.

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