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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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Frustration as battle for pupils places at Cape primary, high schools gets under way in earnest

Education Department has an admissions portal where parents can apply online and they are encouraged to apply to at least five schools. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Education Department has an admissions portal where parents can apply online and they are encouraged to apply to at least five schools. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Sep 28, 2021

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Cape Town - The annual rush to get grades one and 8 pupils registered at primary and high schools for the next year has started in earnest and already the scramble for places has parents frustrated.

Stunned and angry parents have been reaching out to the Cape Argus pleading for help.

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Monique Currie from Lotus River, one of the parents whose child got rejected by eight schools, said she was hurt, sad and frustrated, as she has no idea of where her son would begin Grade 8 next year.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has an admissions portal where parents apply online. Parents were encouraged to apply to at least five schools.

Once the application deadline is reached, applications are reviewed and feedback is given to the parents whether the child is accepted or “oversubscribed” – another way of saying the application has been rejected.

Currie said she had followed the WCED online applications process, and applied at eight schools instead, to be on the safe side.

"I processed all this before the given deadline dates provided. However, when the statuses were updated I was shocked, my son was unsuccessful at all eight schools," said Currie.

Screenshot of the WCED online applications, showing that a child was rejected by a number of schools.

She said she then followed up with those schools as to why he did not make the admission criteria as there was no specific criteria formalised.

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"As per the administratives of all these schools. I followed the advice given but never received any response from any of these schools," she said.

Meanwhile, some parents said they were told to appeal for admission. Vanessa le Roux, founder of a group called Parents for Equal Education SA, said she foresees there would be a challenge with the placements of learners in the province.

SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said they were concerned about the fact that learners were not being placed.

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"We have raised this matter with the WCED on a number of occasions and they have guaranteed that they have systems in place to ensure all learners would be placed, and that the system is being finalised," said Rustin.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department has made it very clear there was a process involved in terms of placement of learners.

Hammond said parents could initially apply for placement in February/March. Schools were then to inform parents of the outcome of their applications with parents confirming placement by June 25. Parents could still apply as late applications to schools or register at the district office.

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She said when schools returned back at the end of July from their holidays they were asked to check their planned enrolment so that they could finalise the available spaces, and to fill in all available spaces where applications have been withdrawn.

"The WCED is using this information to offer places to parents at schools which still show on our system that they have available places and determine where there are other resources required," she said.

She said the WCED was currently finalising its management plan to address learner placement for 2022.

"This data will inform us where the hotspots lie, where there is a need for additional classrooms and teachers, and where there may be gaps to fill," said Hammond.

Rustin said if parents were struggling to get placement for their children, they should raise concerns with the WCED.

"As Sadtu we do not want to have the same situation we had this year, where for the first quarter, some learners were taught under a tree at Forest Village in Eerste River," he said.

ANC provincial spokesperson on education, Khalid Sayed, said the reality was the education system in the Western Cape was designed in such a way that it benefits the rich at the expense of the poor.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said as Sayed was well aware, the 2022 application process has not yet been completed, and was ahead of other provinces.

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