About 300 pupils at informal school still waiting for placement
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PARENTS of about 300 children from Forest Village say their “worst nightmare” has come true as their children remain at home without a formal education.
The Empumelelweni School, initiated by parents on an open field next to the Old Faure Road, was erected in February after about 500 children from the newly established settlement allegedly could not get school placement.
Parent Nolizwe Ndikandika said it’s heartbreaking that nearly halfway through the year their children are still uncertain about their education.
“The learners have no documentation to show that they have been attending school for the past few months. There are no reports showing their progress.
“The saddest part is that some children can’t even access basic needs due to not having documents from the school,” she said.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said as far as the department was concerned, all of the unplaced learners at the site have been offered a place in a school.
“There is no school called Empumelelweni. This was always an illegal site. Once the WCED was able to get the names of the learners ‘registered’ at this site we were able to ascertain how many of the learners required placement,” Hammond said.
“There were 336 learners associated with the illegal site in Forest Village. Many were already registered at and attending schools registered with the WCED.”
Hammond said the department contacted the parents of those who were not registered and the district is now verifying which learners have started attending their allocated schools.
Ndikandika said some of the learners who were allocated a nearby school had not been accepted as they could not speak Afrikaans.
“There are learners who were sent to a local school which is already full. They were interviewed in Afrikaans and because they could not understand (the language), that didn't materialise.
“Other learners were sent to another school where the principal sent them back home because there were no desks, chairs and enough teachers because the department didn't send anything to accommodate them,” she said.
Ndikandika said that parents were aware that it was “too late” for their demands to be met and for this year to be salvaged for the children. However, the fight was also for next year.
The South African Human Rights Commission said it was concerned that there were still children who had not been placed.
Commissioner André Gaum said: “It’s always a crisis when the rights of children are not realised. Our biggest concern is that a quarter has passed and yet there are children who are not placed.
“It is a violation of their rights, and the commission is engaging with involved parties to ascertain what could be done to salvage the situation. We want to figure out where the problem lies and work towards solutions.”