Independent Online

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

WCED served with court papers over seven learners who have not been placed

EELC candidate attorney Yolisa Piliso said over the years, EELC has observed a concerning annual trend of unplaced learners, particularly for Grades 1 and 8, across the province. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

EELC candidate attorney Yolisa Piliso said over the years, EELC has observed a concerning annual trend of unplaced learners, particularly for Grades 1 and 8, across the province. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Published May 12, 2022

Share

Cape Town - The Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) has instituted litigation against the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) over seven unplaced learners in the Metro East District.

This emerged this week during a briefing by EELC to the standing committee on education on issues related to learner admissions in the Western Cape.

Story continues below Advertisement

EELC said the meeting was requested to discuss the school admissions crisis in the province, with the litigation taken against the Education MEC, WCED HOD and the Metro East Education district director.

EELC Media and Communications Co-ordinator Anele Gcwabe said EELC instituted an urgent court application on Monday.

“The parents and caregivers of the seven learners have not received any assistance from the Metro East District and were told, on some occasions, to either wait for next year or were left waiting without any assistance,” Gcwabe said.

The WCED has been served, and in turn the state has served a notice of intention to defend the application.

“The EELC has never litigated against the WCED regarding admissions in the past. Our main approach has always been to try and engage meaningfully with the department. Litigation is always the last tool, after all other channels have been exhausted.

“However, in circumstances where the rights of learners are continuously violated, we are left no option but to litigate. The seven learners and other similarly placed learners who are of school-going age are out of school and cannot be expected to wait until next year for school placement. Such an undertaking would be nothing but a travesty of justice,” Gcwabe said.

Story continues below Advertisement

EELC candidate attorney Yolisa Piliso said over the years, EELC has observed a concerning annual trend of unplaced learners, particularly for Grades 1 and 8, across the province.

In January 2022, there were 3 589 unplaced Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners, excluding the 32000 late applications received by the WCED.

As at March 15, there were 341 unplaced Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners in the province.

Story continues below Advertisement

The WCED has also reported that it had received 53 058 late applications between April 2021 and March 2022.

“We don’t seem to be getting proper plans from the WCED in order to ensure that this challenge is circumvented and learners have access to schools on the first day of the school academic year,” Piliso said.

“Online applications are the primary way in which to apply for school placement. However, it remains a significant challenge for a number of parents and caregivers,” said EELC senior attorney Anjuli Maistry.

Story continues below Advertisement

When approaching the schools directly, parents and caregivers are told that schools were oversubscribed and turned away and not advised on other options available to them.

Parents and caregivers are then instead told to apply for the following year, by the schools.

“There needs to be better co-ordination and communication between schools and districts and better or improved reporting on unplaced learners to ensure that there is better data which is recorded and that in turn has a knock-on effect on better planning. the accountability of districts to the HOD and MEC as well as the population that they’re serving,” Maistry said.

Overcrowding was also a major systemic issue in the Metro East district, pointing to insufficient schools.

EELC executive director Tshegofatso Phala said a number of learners needing placement are not recorded and tracked, leading to an inaccurate count of unplaced learners,” Phala said.

“We think that the first stage of planning is having centralised systems, centralised databases and a clear system both for schools and for districts on how we track and keep the numbers of unplaced learners. Without that, you simply can’t begin to say that you’re planning because what are you planning for?” said Phala.

DA provincial spokesperson on education, Deidré Baartman, said greater capacity was needed to accommodate the increasing number of children, which is why the department was increasing its infrastructure development programme to over R2.5 billion, an increase of almost 50%.

WCED Overberg District acting director Lance Abrahams said about 18000 learners on average enter the system annually.

“We cannot control where and when parents come to the Western Cape but despite that, the WCED has done tremendous work in placing all of those learners and we welcome any organisation to notify us where there are unplaced learners.

“We’ve done so successfully this year and for last year and all of those learners have been placed into schools.”

[email protected]

Cape Argus

Share