According to Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi,“If you are registering your child for the first time today, your child will be placed last. Those that used online registration will be placed first. You cannot come on the 7th or 8th of January and expect to be placed on the 9th.”
At a press conference on Tuesday, he told members of the media the provincial education department had experienced difficulties contacting some 16 000 parents with regard to their children’s placement. As a result, these parents did not provide adequate documentation, making the process difficult.
“We can confirm that there were 16 000 parents that did not submit documents, but they indeed qualified for placement. We removed their children, and placed them on the reserve list,” Lesufi said.
Anthea Cereseto, the chief executive of the Governing Body Foundation — a body which oversees public school placements — added that the province had managed to place most pupils whose parents had followed the online process. “Those that did not accept the placement that was offered because it was not their school of choice remain a problem if the parents have not opted for independent schooling instead,” Cereseto explained.
Lesufi was at pains to explain that parents disappointed by the location of their child’s placement ought to understand how quickly schools reached capacity, saying, “One thousand and sixty-eight schools had availability, of that number, 945 schools became full immediately.”
According to Lesufi — there were schools that reached full capacity within the first 30 minutes of online registration opening. He said that parents who request space three months down the line must understand that it is “practically impossible” to accommodate everyone, as allowing more learners in the classroom will compromise the quality of education.
“There are areas where we are chockablock, where we can’t place a single child, for example in Kempton Park. In Centurion there is place for children but we have a language problem. The majority of schools in Centurion teach in Afrikaans, but the majority of applicants want to be taught in English.”
Lesufi reassured parents that their children will not miss out if they had not been placed at the start of term.
“We encourage schools not to hold exams or tests in the first two weeks so that learners who come late are not compromised. Parents must not panic if their child is not attending school tomorrow (Wednesday), we are working hard to attend to those issues.”
“The number [of late applications] could rise as parents move their children to study in Gauteng because they believe the education is better than in their own province,” Cereseto noted.
Lesufi further urged parents not to attempt walk-ins: “All those people who are walk-ins, go to our district offices don’t go to our schools.”
“The Gauteng department of education has a problem each year in that there is always an influx from elsewhere, and the cost of building sufficient additional schools to accommodate the new learners is beyond the GDE’s financial capacity,” Cereseto said.
“The problem will arise each year until we have quality education in all schools and in all provinces,” she added.
As of January 7, a total of 863 schools still had some availability.