Almost a month into the school year, Sadtu provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin has concluded that the unplaced pupils would have to play catch-up for a while.
“Last year, we asked the department what its plans were for this year to prevent this from happening, and obviously its plan did not work. It has failed our children.”
Rustin said they had noticed that township schools and schools on the Cape Flats were more willing to accept pupils who needed last-minute placements.
“This result is overcrowding in our township schools and this further exacerbates the divide between the schools in the suburbs and the rich and the poor.
"Our children are suffering at the end of the day due to the department not having proper contingency plans in place to prevent this from happening.
"Our Cape Flats schools are bursting at the seams.”
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said it was in the process of placing the 4 880 pupils in both primary and high schools.
Department spokesperson Paddy Attwell said about 1 041 494 pupils had enrolled so far, according to interim results of a 10-day snap survey.
He did not answer questions the Cape Times asked about what their detailed plans were to get the pupils into school.
“The 10-day snap survey provides a 'dipstick' indication of pupil numbers at the start of a school year.
"The total number of pupils enrolled for Grades R to 12, including special schools, now stands at 1 108 085.”
Attwell said officials were currently placing about 4 880 pupils, down from 11 200 on the first day of school.
“The WCED ordered 231 mobile classrooms last year to accommodate extra pupils and has identified 35 schools with 60 available classrooms in all districts.
"Twenty-five of these schools are in metropolitan districts, while 10 are in rural districts, mainly on the West Coast.
“Officials are advising parents to accept places offered to them.
"The department cannot guarantee places at schools of choice.
"District officials are finalising catch-up plans for pupils who did not have places at the start of the term.
"Officials are confident that they will be able to place most of the pupils still looking for places by mid-February, with the balance by the end of the month,” Attwell added.