Last month about 1200 unplaced school learners from Mfuleni marched, demanding to be placed. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)
Last month about 1200 unplaced school learners from Mfuleni marched, demanding to be placed. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

After feeling the pressure, the WCED releases plan for unplaced learners

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Apr 26, 2021

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Cape Town - After huge pressure from organisations including the Human Rights Commission, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has finally come up with a plan to place 2 550 learners that are not placed in schools.

The plan will see the provision of 29 mobile classrooms to schools, as well as additional teaching posts. By Friday the number of unplaced learners had been reduced to 1 712, the department said.

The plan comes after pressure groups, political parties, the SA Human Rights Commission and Legal Resources Centre demanded that the WCED make a plan to place learners in schools.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said while some schools already have extra classrooms available, others did require mobile classrooms.

“Unfortunately, the mobile classrooms take time to construct and can’t be placed immediately.”

Schäfer said schools that have received the additional teaching posts have agreed to accommodate learners in alternative spaces until the classrooms were constructed “such as the school hall or laboratory space”.

She said the important thing was that those learners would be placed in schools, ready to begin the second term.

"The WCED is well aware that these learners have missed a full term of work, and lesson packs for the first term will be made available at the schools where the learners will be placed.

“District officials will also guide schools on how to support learners with a catch-up plan, and will also be monitoring the learners’ assessment results for the second term to determine future support programmes," she said.

Schäfer said the plan would not be possible without additional funding, and that has been the main thorn in their side with regard to additional infrastructure and teachers.

She said if the trend of in-migration also continues without additional funding, the problem would be insurmountable.

In a recent letter to the WCED and Schäfer, the Legal Resource Centre’s Amy-Leigh Payne said they were concerned that the WCED had faced similar crises over the past few years and were not putting in place plans for the increasing demand for learner enrolment.

ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said they were not convinced that the WCED’s plans would be sustainable.

Sayed said the issue at hand was the lack of political will by the DA to address the issue of insufficient school places.

“We reiterate our calls for the government to ensure that all the public ordinary schools, including the former model C schools, are used to full capacity,” said Sayed.

“The fact that towards the end of April over 2 000 learners remain unplaced shows that the WCED has failed. These learners if they are placed will be way behind in terms of the work of the term. Even learners that have now been placed are behind in terms of work,” he said.

SA Human Rights Commission commissioner André Gaum said they have been engaging with WCED and the MEC, and were trying to establish where the problem was.

Gaum said the department told the commission that they did not have enough money to provide for the schools required.

He said, secondly, they were enquiring what the province has allocated for education purposes, and, thirdly, they were looking at the equitable share.

Gaum said they needed to see where the problem was, whether it stemmed from the WCED's own budget allocation or whether the province was not giving the department the equitable share required, or whether the problem of an equitable share arose at national level.

Cape Argus

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