While it was a smooth start to the academic year for most Western Cape schools, there were reports of overcrowding at some institutions.
At others, anxious parents were seen standing at school gates in hopes of available space for their children.
Learning commenced for 1.2 million pupils on Wednesday, including 93 000 children in Grade 1 and 98 000 in Grade 8.
The department was also still scrambling to place 2 636 children and working to resolve 609 extremely late applications that were received after January 1.
It had become the norm that inland public schools reopen first and those along the coast follow suit the following week, however, this academic year all schools across the country reopened on the same day.
Education MEC David Maynier joined by Premier Alan Winde visited Westcott Primary School in Diep River where seven new classrooms and two ablution blocks were completed to help meet some of the demand for places.
Perseverance Secondary School in Belhar also opened the doors of 12 new classrooms, an art lab, a kitchen and a multi-purpose media centre.
“Our Rapid School Build programme continues to expand the number of places available at schools in our province, and additional classrooms and schools are reaching completion every week.
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.
“We have already placed around 120 000 Grade 1 and 8 learners, and we will continue our efforts to place the remaining learners seeking places at our schools.
We ask for patience as we reallocate resources to where they are needed, and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to place learners,” said Maynier.
Provincial ANC education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said they were inundated with calls about overcrowding at Simanyene, Nomzamo and Khanyolwethu high schools in Strand.
“There were also complaints at Imperial Primary in Mitchells Plain and Manzomthombo High School and in Kraaifontein,” said Sayed.
At Holy Cross Primary School at Walmer Estate, Nomthandazo Zweni was hands on ensuring teaching was under way in classes while also attending to parents who either applied late or did not apply at all.
“There were parents who came with their children to beg for placement and had not applied.
Some have siblings or cousins who are already in the school but I will be referring them to the district office because they did not apply. I’m also trying to sort out a case of children whose names are not appearing in the list in our system. Other parents are only collecting the reports and school stationery lists today whilst we communicated with them last week and also on Monday,” said Zweni.
Meanwhile, Hanover Park residents held a picket outside protesting against gang shootings in the area where six people were shot on Saturday night and a man killed on Tuesday near Blomvlei Primary School.
WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said all schools reported no disruption regarding a protest on Wednesday.
“We also did not receive any correspondence on it. We are aware of a WhatsApp image circulating last night but no reports have reached us that it actually went ahead,” she said.
The South African Human Rights Commission’s Western Cape Provincial Office said it would be deploying its staff at various schools to monitor the start of year process including placements and assist with identifying any blockages.