Western Cape Education Department says there were 19 000 extra pupils in the province, but not enough schools to place them. Filed Photo
Western Cape Education Department says there were 19 000 extra pupils in the province, but not enough schools to place them. Filed Photo

Not enough schools to place extra 19 000 learners, says WCED

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Mar 18, 2021

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The Western Cape ANC has threatened to take the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to the public protector over the non-placement of thousands of learners.

“As of March 8, 2021, 6 594 children of compulsory school-going age were unplaced in the Western Cape, including 891 Grade 1 pupils, 3 024 Grade 8 learners and 2 679 learners in other grades. To put it bluntly: they are not at school,” the ANC said.

A press briefing held jointly by the ANC, Cosatu, the SACP, the SA National Civic Organisation, the SA Democratic Teachers Union and the Congress of South African Students gave the recommendation that, to address the crisis of insufficient school capacity and unplaced learners, the provincial government needed to avail more resources for additional schools, teachers and classrooms.

“Collectively, we have been inundated with calls from parents who needed assistance because their pupils could not be placed in schools in the Western Cape. The majority of parents applied timeously and provided all the required documents, yet they could not get schools for their children.

“Education in South Africa is a basic human right that is constitutionally enshrined. Section 29 of the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution guarantees every child the right to basic education and places an obligation on the state to protect, respect, promote and fulfil the right to education,” they said.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said there were 6 000 unplaced learners.

“Half of these are late applications, mostly made this year, which are impossible to plan for. We are still receiving new applications daily. Our districts have done an incredible job in reducing the number of unplaced learners from 13 000 at the beginning of the year, and they will continue working to find a place for every pupil,” she said.

Schäfer said the province has 19 000 extra learners this year.

“We simply cannot afford to build, furnish and staff 19 schools this year, and every single year. Our budget continues to decrease in real terms, so that the national government can support failing SOEs at the expense of our children.”

Schäfer said a third of the infrastructure budget has been lost to Covid-19 and national grant cuts last year. The province lost R300 million to the drought before that.

“The ANC itself should answer to the Human Rights Commission for the continued defunding of our education budget by the National Treasury, agreeing to unaffordable wage increases for years, and for failing to build and maintain sufficient schools when they were in office,” said Schäfer.

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