Cape Town - Supported by Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), scores of parents along with their children protested at the Metro East Education District in Kuils River over learners who remain unplaced a week since the start of the school year.
As the global community commemorated International Day of Education yesterday, around 100 people protested to highlight the plight of unplaced learners.
Parents from Khayelitsha, Strand and Kraaifontein joined others facing a similar plight, who had queued outside the office.
Learners protested in their school uniforms, showing their readiness to be placed into classrooms.
Parent Mavis Mgoqi from Harare, Khayelitsha said: “There is no school for my child. I’ve got two kids at home. One is supposed to go to Grade 11 but there’s no space for her. I applied last March (for Grade 8) online and they answered us and said there’s no space. I applied to 13 schools and they said there’s no space.”
EE parents co-ordinator Daphne Erosi said the online application process has been a long-standing problem. Other challenges included children turned away as their parents were unable to pay the admission fee, despite having space.
Head of organising for EE in the Western Cape, Nontsikelelo Dlulani, aid: “What we have been doing last week and this week is assisting parents together with EELC to fill in the placement forms, but it’s becoming quite overwhelming because there is no response that is coming from the district.
“Some parents are losing their days at work. So we are here to demand that the Metro East and the WCED place learners with immediate effect, but we also know that the issue of school admission is an issue of the education system as a whole.”
Dlulani said most of the applications of the parents were not late and that there have been parents at the district office since September, with no response received.
“Some are in the second year being here and children are not being admitted, while some are late applications, and some parents didn’t apply … But we also should ask ourselves why are parents not applying?
“This is an online system and some of these parents don’t even have digital access to apply, and some of these parents applied early during March last year and all the schools they applied to, they were all rejected.
“Some of them are here to appeal. They’ve been told to go back to schools; schools are telling parents to come back to the district office. And it’s quite disheartening and very sad because some of these parents are unemployed.”
Education MEC David Maynier said they were disappointed, claiming that protesters forced their way into the district’s walk-in centre, bringing the work of the officials to a halt, and requiring assistance from the police.
“We respect the right to protest, but this must be done in a lawful manner without disrupting the admissions process.”
Dlulani said: “That’s a blunt lie and I think the district office knows exactly that that is a lie. There were no EE and parents that forced themselves inside the district office. No one was hurt and there was nothing that was vandalised. This was a peaceful protest.”
She added that no parent was distracted from, or stopped from, seeking assistance from district officials.