Picture: Shannon Anderson/Pixabay
Cape Town – Excitement and tears will be the order of the day today as thousands of Western Cape children begin their schooling.

The provincial department said about 107 000 pupils have enrolled for Grade1 this year, compared to 104 336 in 2019. Grade 8 will welcome 93 206 pupils, while last year there were 85 771.

Schools in areas like Mfuleni, Delft and the Helderberg are once again in high demand as population growth there has spiked.

In 2019, over 1 000 Mfuleni children had to wait for more than four weeks before being enrolled as there was no place for them.

They had to cram into halls, old clinic buildings and churches because all schools in the area were filled to capacity.

Western Cape Eduction Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the pupil population in the province continued to grow dramatically.

“The greatest demand in terms of the districts would definitely be in Metro East. We have also received many late applications over the last two days from all over the province. 

"Every year we have pupils who go unplaced at the start of the school year due to late enrolment or demands for specific schools or areas.

“Parents may have to wait weeks to find places in schools in the Western Cape, if they do not already have places,” said Hammond.

She said if by the 10th day a pupil failed to arrive at school, the school could take them off their enrolment list.

“This opens up places across the province. Some pupils decide to enrol in other provinces, while others have simply been enrolled at more than one school and (parents) have failed to notify the relevant schools that they will not be admitting their child into a particular school,” she said.

Hammond said the department planned thoroughly for growth, subject to the available budget.

“The district offices are assisting parents to find alternative options as schools reopen, but this does take time and parents must stay in touch with our district offices.

“Additional staff have been placed at our district offices and walk-in centres have been created,” she said.

Cape Times