Parents scrambling to get spaces in Gauteng schools

The Gauteng Department of Education’s online application for next year’s admission for Grade 1 and 8 pupils has already received some 200 000 applications since going live this morning.

The application will close on July 22 at midnight. Pupils will then be placed at schools from August 31 to September 30.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi launched the application process this morning at Diepsloot Community Hall. It was meant to have gone live last week Monday. But it was postponed until today after a request by some school governing bodies, and when other interested parties raised objections about the process and threatened to go to court.

One of the biggest concerns was about the value given in the application system to children whose parents applied using a home address. The system was created to take away this advantage — the old system of pupils applying to the school they lived near to was seen to be ensuring that wealthier children, living in wealthier neighbourhoods, were guaranteed access to better schools.

Lesufi said on Sunday that the issue had been solved. Now, parents have five options when applying. This means that no option is seen to be superior to the other.

The one option includes putting in your home address, so a student can apply to a school closest to their home address. A similar version of this is an option that allows students to apply for a school using their parent’s work address, ensuring that they are at school in a place where they can be easily fetched by their parents. Another option is for students that already have a sibling in a school to apply to that school.

The newest option — which has come about because of the amendments to the school application system — allows students to apply to a school within a 30km radius of their home address, and a school beyond 30km radius of their home address.

Speaking to the media on Monday morning, Lesufi said there were 320 000 spaces available, and the response so far showed that the department was going to fill the spaces at a breakneck pace.

“There might be some delays, and I want to say to parents who are saying to parents please try, try and try until you get through,” said Lesufi.

He added that the online application system helps the department plan properly and distribute resources where they are needed, because it is able to see where there is a demand for schools and where there is not.

This is how the system works:

Phase one:

Parents can apply to a maximum of five schools using any of the five application options. Parents will be expected to submit the required documents to the schools applied to within seven school days. Parents will have to sign the submission registrar at the school and request a receipt acknowledging the submission of documents. This will serve as critical evidence to follow-up on placement.

Phase two:

Parents will receive offers of placement from schools based on admissions criteria and availability of space and resources. Offers must be accepted within seven working days. Failure to accept offers will result in the department placing the pupils in schools within the feeder zones that cover the parent’s home address.

Phase three :

Admission to a school will only occur after the offer of placement is accepted and confirmed. Once offers are accepted and confirmed, schools will provide further communication. 

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Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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