Monday is the last day for parents of Grades one and eight pupils to apply online and secure a space for their children in Gauteng schools in 2019.
Applications through the online admissions system opened on April 16 and will close at midnight on Tuesday morning.
“The department is moving away from late applications and parents who do not apply online by midnight on the May 28 2018 are running the risk of having their children out of school in January 2019,” said Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
At the beginning of this year, thousands of children were still not placed in schools in the province. On January 16, Lesufi announced that 28 435 had not been allocated schools.
Since the introduction of the online application for pupils in 2016, Gauteng has experienced glitches in placing pupils on time. This glitch also applied to pupils who had registered on time.
At the start of the 2017 academic year, the province had still not placed over 50 000 pupils in schools. Some of the pupils were placed in schools as late as March 2017.
In a statement, the Gauteng department of education said the application period this year has been relatively free of errors, but the fact that the demand for certain schools exceeds available spaces is cause for concern.
According to the department, based on the number of applications registered to date, there are 596 schools where demand exceeds available spaces. Some of the schools in these areas have recorded between 1 538 and 1 960 applications for either grade one or grade eight.
In January, Lesufi said the majority of the pupils who had not been placed but applied on time were those whose parents had applied in high pressure areas where there is shortage of space.
The problem of this demand came to a head this year during the highly-publicised dispute between Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging and the Gauteng education department.
Hoërskool Overvaal’s governing body brought an urgent application to the Pretoria high court in January after the department took an administrative decision to place an additional 55 pupils in the school, above the 142 pupils already accepted by the institution.The school maintained that it had reached its capacity while the department said the pupils were denied places based on their language preference.
The parents of the 55 pupils had applied for admission to Hoërskool Overvaal, saying that the school was best suited their children as they lived in the area.
The Gauteng department’s capacity to accommodate children migrating from other provinces to urban centres has also contributed to the high rate of unplaced pupils.
In a parliamentary reply last year the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, said the move by pupils to other provinces had a negative impact as the pupils arrive in January and March when provincial departments have long made arrangements for the new year.
The department urged parents from other provinces who are planning to move to Gauteng to apply online before the closing date.
In contrast to the influx to high-pressure areas, the department expressed concern over the low application rate to schools in townships.
“There are 385 schools with less than 50 applications, 79 schools with less than 20 applications, and 69 schools with less than 10 applications. These schools are all located in townships,” said the statement. The department said that it is worrying that in the last two years many parents in townships waited for the late application period and flooded Gauteng department of education offices in January to apply.