Drafted School Admissions Policy fails to address schools placement crisis
The drafted School Admissions Policy must compel all education MECs to publicly release an annual report on how they plan to fix the shortage of school spaces in their province.
This is the recommendation of the Education advocacy group, Equal Education (EE) together with its legal wing, Equal Education Law Centre (EELC).
EE and EELC made a joint submission on the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) draft amended National Admissions Policy for Ordinary Public Schools. The organisation said although the department’s draft has positive changes, such as the anti-discrimination clause, it should consider the rights of the pupil.
“The draft amended policy is silent on the obligation of Education MECs to ensure pupils are placed at schools.
“It is the responsibility of the Education MECs to ensure that there are enough places for all the children in their province to attend a suitable school. In our submission, we recommend that, in order to ensure proper accountability of MECs and proper oversight by the DBE, and to protect the best interests of learners in line with the Constitution, this obligation placed on MECs, must be clearly stated in the amended admission policy,” the joint statement noted.
EE called for the MECs to release public annual reports on how they planned to fix the admissions crisis. These reports would be released 30 days after the start of each academic year. It would include stats of how many pupils were not placed, and the reasons why.
“The draft amended policy fails to tackle the problems with the admission administration system.
“We know too well the struggle of parents/guardians to get their children a place at a suitable school. In Gauteng and the Western Cape especially, parents/guardians have, year after year, asked us to help them with overly complicated admission processes,” said EE.
School placements has been a contentious issue in the Western Cape by mid-term there had been about 6 000 pupils still in need of school placement. An IOL article found that there is just one high school to every three primary schools. This shows that only a third of primary schools pupils can be secured a spot in high school.
EE said the proposed policy was an opportunity to have a significantly positive impact on the placement of pupils in schools.
EE criticised system errors within the department, particularly the failure to coordinate and communicate between education districts and schools, where districts often fail to keep accurate records of unplaced learners.
“There is an urgent need for effective cooperation and communication between key stakeholders such as provincial HODs, district officials, and SGBs to ensure that learners are quickly enrolled. The draft amended policy misses an opportunity to provide clarity on who has the final decision on the admission of learners to school, ” EE said.
EE called on DBE Minister Angie Motshekga to give MECs a time frame or deadline date by which all children must be placed at schools.