19 000 pupils still not placed in classes

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TE­BOGO MONAMA

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.”

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