The placement of pupils for admission in grades 1 and 8 in the 2024 academic year is at an advanced stage with provinces reporting that placements were at more than 60% two months ago.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said all primary schools and secondary schools started preparing for admissions of grade 1 and 8 as early as the beginning of term two in 2023.
“By October 2023, reports on placements from provinces indicated that almost 65% of learners in the two grades had been placed.
“The department is receiving accumulative statistics on placements from provinces on a monthly basis from October 2023,” Motshekga said.
She was responding to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Lerato Tito who asked about the state of readiness of her department for new learners who will be starting primary and high school next year.
Tito also asked about measures that were put in place to ensure that no learners were left behind in each province.
Motshekga said different forms of advocacy had been employed by provinces to let parents apply for placements.
“There are dedicated officials per province assigned to handle learner admissions. Schools have been directed via circulars on managing learner placements,” she said, adding that her department held meetings with provinces to discuss matters pertaining to learner admissions.
Meanwhile, there are more than 900 000 pupils in more than 5000 schools who need of scholar transport. Just over 700 000 were transported in September.
Responding to questions from DA MP Anna Maria van Zyl, Motshekga said the scholar transport programme was a shared responsibility between her department and the Department of Transport.
“The provisioning and prioritisation of the learner transport programme is, however, a provincial competency and the National Departments of Basic Education and Transport monitor the provisioning of learner transport programme in provinces.
“Reports received from Provincial Departments of Education indicate that there are a total of 900 946 learners in 5 635 schools in need of learner’s transport.”
She said 707 069 learners in 4 196 schools were transported as at the end of September.
“This is as a result of budgetary constraints experienced by provinces. We must also note that the learner transport programme at inception was an interim solution to provide access to education where there is a shortage of schools and such provinces have been requested to collaborate with infrastructure units to build schools where there is a higher demand for learner transport programme and relief pressure on the transportation of learners.”
Motshekga said the National Learner Transport Policy sets policy directives for the provision of the learner transport operations nationally.
“The policy directives provide amongst others, the criteria for inclusion of learners into the National Learner Transport Programme, and safety considerations in respect approved operators and vehicles.
“Furthermore, the department has developed operational guidelines to guide provinces in the implementation of the policy,” she said.