19 000 pupils still not placed in classes
TWO WEEKS into the new school year, the Gauteng Department of Education is still struggling to place about 19 000 pupils who are still not in classes.
The department made considerable progress in placing pupils who were part of the original 58 000 not placed in schools when the academic year started last week.
At a media briefing yesterday, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said that of the 58 000, only 7 092 had still not been placed. But Lesufi said the department was under extra pressure with an extra 12 000 late applications for grades 1 and 8 received this month.
This means the number of pupils not placed in the province is 19 000.
“To date, 312 088 applications were processed online and 304 996 learners have been placed, of which 175 827 are for Grade 1 and 136 088 for Grade 8,” Lesufi said.
“We reiterate our deep sense of empathy with the parents whose children are still not placed and commit to accelerate placement to at least eliminate the backlog of online applications. Unfortunately, for parents who have just walked into our operations centres, this may take a while.”
Lesufi said that because of space constraints, schools had been forced to take in extra pupils and eight new schools would be opened. Other schools have had to turn libraries into classrooms, and where pupils cannot be accommodated in schools near their home, transport would be provided.
He added that the issue with Hoërskool Overkruin and Hoërskool Montana refusing to admit any more English-medium pupils at their schools had been sorted out.
Overkruin has agreed to admit 70 more pupils and Montana another 47. Lesufi said in the area, only 10 pupils have still not been placed.
Last week, the two schools took the department to the high court in Pretoria because, they said, as Afrikaans-medium schools, they did not have the capacity to enrol any more English-medium pupils.
Lesufi said despite criticism of the online application system, the department would continue with it this year.
“We will keep it for the Grade 1 and 8 applications until we master it. Important lessons were recorded with the 2016 experience and the system will be refined to incorporate these lessons.”