Unplaced Western Cape pupils caught in middle of MEC and activists spat
Cape Town - Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) dismissed claims by the Education MEC Debbie Schäfer that they were unwilling to help resolve the school admissions crisis.
The groups said Schäfer must fulfil her responsibility to develop long-term solutions to the yearly admissions crisis instead of making false claims about them.
In a statement, the groups said last week, Schäfer claimed that EE had not provided the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) with “any verifiable data” on the number of pupils in the province who had not yet been enrolled at schools.
“This is most unfortunate as we (the WCED) had hoped to have assistance in this regard,” she said.
EE and the EELC said they wanted to put it on record that Schäfer’s comments were false.
"At the start of every year, there are thousands of learners who are unplaced at schools in the Western Cape, and in anticipation of this we wrote to Schäfer on October 23, 2020, to raise our concerns and to ask about the WCED’s plans for the placement of learners for 2021."
They said their two organisations stressed the need for the WCED to develop well-thought through, clear plans to address the yearly crisis, and that Schäfer’s response to their letter was dismissive and did not provide a plan.
Schäfer said the list provided by the EELC contained no ID numbers or Centralised Educational Management Information System (Cemis) numbers, and in one instance, not even the surname was provided.
She said no phone numbers were provided for the parents of 10 of the pupils, preventing the department from accessing the required information to place pupils.
"There are further concerns – a 30-year-old 'learner' appears on the list, for whom the parents allegedly applied to a primary school. A 6-year-old is listed as needing a place in Grade 5. One child is 4 years old – not even of school-going age," said Schäfer.
She said most tellingly, for 28 learners, the parents stated that they never applied for a school, and for a further 14 pupils, they did not respond to the question as to whether and where they had applied.
"It is not clear how a learner can be unplaced if they have not even applied for a place in a school. Yet EELC claims they are unplaced," she said.