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Financial strains may mean some pupils won’t find schools in 2018

The Gauteng Department of Education is under immense financial pressure, which may play a role in students not being placed in a school for 2018.

At a media briefing at the Nokuthula LSEN school in Johannesburg on Sunday, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said, with only 2 017 public schools in Gauteng – of which 402 were already at maximum capacity – 63 456 applicants still needed to be placed before the 2018 school year begins.

This has been exacerbated by the fact that 35 865 applicants have not submitted documents to the schools, as well as the department’s financial strain, as Treasury did not increase the budget for the 2018 school year.

“We have received an instruction that we are not going to get a new budget from Treasury, which simply means that there is no new money that is coming,” said Lesufi.

“We have to absorb all new children with no new money. The pressure is unthinkable.”

Lesufi said that as more and more students were coming to Gauteng for their schooling, and because of the financial restraints, there would not be enough teachers and text books to meet the demand.

“It’s inevitable that, at the beginning of the year, there might be a learner that says: ‘I don’t have a text book.’ There might be a school that might say: ‘The ceiling is falling, we have not fixed it.’ There might be a learner sitting on a tin of paraffin instead of a desk.

“I can tell you without any shadow of a doubt that, in January, parents are going to toyi toyi outside my office because they are looking for spaces. We have not closed because we don’t want to take them, we have closed because we don’t have money to accommodate extra learners.”

“We wish all our learners strength,” Lesufi said. But, while his hands were tied, the department would try and place all students where there were spaces, but if the spaces were exceeded, there would be nothing the department could do.

Out of a total of 285 834 students that need to be placed in school, 222 378 (77%) of all applicants had been placed. This figure is a sum total of 123 450 for Grade 1 and 98 928 for Grade 8 learners.

Lesufi said the department was opening new schools every month, but that the demand was huge and just couldn’t be matched.

Lesufi said applications, which took place online, had closed on October 20, but that the system would open for late applications again between November 1 and November 10.

“No new applications will be processed in January 2018, as schools are full.”

He said that because of the strain, budget cuts had to be made, such as the withdrawal of tablets for students.

Now only matric students would receive tablets. He added that they would have to go on credit to feed the children and provide them with transport.

With the 2017 National Senior Certificate Examinations beginning on Monday, Lesufi said he was confident that they would be conducted successfully.

“We wish all our learners strength and success during this stressful period and appeal to everyone to provide the necessary support.” — News24

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Alex Mitchley
Alex Mitchley
South African Journalist at News24

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