CAPE TOWN - To tackle pupil growth that leads to placement challenges and crammed classrooms, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has set a target to complete 46 mobile classrooms this month.
The mobile classrooms are expected to be allocated to 17 schools where it was in highest demand.
According to the schools calendar, children in the coastal provinces including Western Cape will reopen on January 19.
Inland provinces such as Gauteng, will reopen on January 12.
Basic Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said last-minute placements, especially of new pupils remained a challenge at the start of the school year.
“That creates a problem in the system and the provinces are not able to handle that. Admission begins much earlier in the year to make sure that parents have enough time to gather documents,” he said.
According to WCED, at the end of December the department reported 3 261 Grade 8s and 602 Grade 1s remained unplaced in schools across the province.
WCED spokesperson Millicent Merton said each year they received about 18 000 to 20 000 extra pupils in schools and they had made 18 640 extra places available for this academic year.
“(We are) activating eight new high school expansion sites for the start of the school year, to accommodate Grade 8 intakes. At present, we anticipate that two new mobile schools would be completed by the end of Term 1. (We are) repairing, repurposing existing classrooms, schools and adding 590 additional teaching posts effective January 1, 2022,” said Merton.
She appealed to parents to answer their cell phones when being called by department officials with an offer of placement.
“We are still finding that parents are uncontactable when we want to offer places. If your contact details have changed, please notify your district office immediately. Since the choice of school is in the domain of parents, we also have some difficulty in predicting the areas of choice when a parent does not apply timeously.”
ANC provincial education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said close to R1billion of education resources has not been used, and that money being surrendered to the treasury meant there was enough to show that the problem was not insufficient resources.
“The fact that on average learner numbers are growing by up to 20 000 and yet there’s no clear and coherent plan to address the challenge shows signs of inefficiencies and lack of foresight on the part of the WCED. The number of additional mobile classrooms, additional schools and additional teaching posts for 2022 is not enough to match the demand,” said Sayed.