Cape Town - As the second week of the 2024 academic year starts, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says it continues to receive new, extremely late applications every day for the 2024 academic year.
The spokesperson for Education MEC David Maynier, Kerry Mauchline, said this has increased since schools had reopened.
“The greatest demand continues to be in the Metro education districts, especially for Grade 8. We appeal to parents for patience as we work to find a suitable place for every learner. We understand that this is an anxious time for parents, and we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to finalise all placements,” Mauchline said.
Maynier said in a statement that 1.2 million learners would be starting the academic year at public schools. This included 93 000 Grade 1 learners and 98000 Grade 8 learners.
On January 11, the department said 609 new, extremely late applications in the first 10 days of January were received, and that at the time placement was in progress for 2636 Grade 1 and 8 learners.
The department reiterated that all schools in the Western Cape were full.
Last Wednesday, the WCED said its Rapid School Build programme continued to expand the number of places available at schools in the province, and that additional classrooms and schools were reaching completion every week.
“Despite a massive R716.4million blow to our budget, we are still building 10 new schools and three replacement schools for new learners joining us this year, including two for learners with special needs,” the WCED said.
“We have already placed around 120000 Grade 1 and 8 learners, and we will continue our efforts to place the remaining learners seeking places at our schools, including the extremely late applicants arriving at our district offices daily.
“We ask for patience as we reallocate resources to where they are needed, and we’ll leave no stone unturned in our efforts to place learners.”
As a response to recovering some of the learning losses that occurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the department initiated #BackOnTrack extra classes which are set to resume in February.
The founder of Parents for Equal Education South Africa, Vanessa le Roux, said: “Like any other year, there are thousands of learners that are still not placed. Sadly, many of these learners won’t see a day in the classroom for this academic year.
“The department now brands these unplaced learners as ‘late applications’ and according to them the total stood at 18000 a few days ago.
“This is a blatant lie. Those figures are called their failures, not late applications – their failures,” she said.