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Cape Town - Between 500 and 700 children in the Western Cape have not yet found places in schools, according to a rough estimate by the Western Cape Education Department.
Khayelitsha and the Helderberg Basin had the highest demand for places, said Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant.
She said there were some “duplicates” in the estimated figure as some parents had tried to find placement in more than one district.
“We also know that parents have enrolled their children at a school but are holding out for another school that is their first choice,” she added.
Casey said the department was confident it could accommodate everyone.
Late enrolments, parents waiting for places at their school of choice and increased demand in specific schools were the main reasons for children not getting placed.
Casey acknowledged that there was always a small number of pupils that returned from other provinces at the end of January after their parents had received their January salaries. Many of these pupils are already enrolled in Western Cape schools.
“In every education system it takes a week to a week and a half for the system to settle. Schools need to verify enrolments, to determine if absent learners are in fact returning and what places are available.”
She said that in Khayelitsha, for example, the department had collated information from parents and pupils and would meet school principals today to determine available spaces to place pupils into the relevant grades.
On Tuesday, Wallacedene resident Nora Tafafene told the Cape Argus that she was looking after three children of compulsory schoolgoing age at her home because they had not been placed at schools.
Residents who have been unable to find places for their children have been bringing them to Tafafene for the past few years. She looks after them between 8am and 1.30pm.
She said their parents told her that they had been unable to place them in schools and some had indicated this was because they did not have identity documents or birth certificates for their children. But Tafafene said some parents simply didn’t care.
She said a campaign to start addressing the problem was in the works.
Casey said that Wallacedene was one of the areas in the metropole’s north education district where there was a strong demand for places.