No first day of school for thousands of pupils still not enrolled
While many children started their first academic year at schools, there are still thousands of children across the country who have not been placed at schools.
Public schools opened their doors for teaching and learning on Monday, about two weeks after private schools. The delay is because of a surge in the Covid-19 cases.
However, thousands of children who were meant to start at new schools still have no uniform, stationery lists or even an idea of which school they will be enrolled at.
On Sunday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said a total of 8 982 Grade 1 pupils remained unplaced, while 16 117 Grade 8 pupils had yet to be placed.
According to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) as of February 14, 2 077 Grade 1 pupils had not been placed at schools, and 5 219 Grade 8s were also without a school.
Spokesperson to minister Debbie Schäfer, Kerry Mauchline, said: “These numbers change daily as placements are made. A significant number of those unplaced are late applications.”
The WCED and many other departments across the country have piloted online enrolling admissions systems where parents are to apply online to at least five schools as well as manually at the chosen schools. From there onwards, they await feedback from the schools after a certain deadline date that is announced by the departments, respectively. If the application is unsuccessful, the parents are to appeal at the school.
“We understand that this is an anxious period for parents in this situation, but our district offices are doing everything they can to find a place for these children. After the 10th day SNAP survey, we will have an accurate account of which learners have taken up their places at a school. That brings additional opportunities for unplaced learners to be placed,” said Mauchline.
Meanwhile, in KwaZulu-Natal 110 Grade 1 pupils and 196 Grade 8 pupils had not been placed by February 15. However; 67 Grade 1s and 117 Grade 8s were placed on that same day.
KwaZulu-Natal education department spokesperson, Sihle Mlotshwa said: “This number is going to change by the end of the day because admissions were taking place throughout the day. We have established district admission committees led by the district directors to look into the whole issue of admission.”
In Gauteng, education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said: “It is encouraging that; the department has made progress in the placement of learners. A total of 221 271 (Grade 1: 104 981 and Grade 8: 116 290) applicants have been placed. We are working tirelessly to place the remaining 1 004 (0.45%) applicants.”
The education departments said teachers would be assisting in helping latecomers in catching up with work covered during the days that they were not at school.
“As many schools will be rotating timetables to ensure social distancing, the impact on the learners may well be less than usual. The catch-up plan will take a number of years, and teachers will closely monitor which learners are struggling with specific concepts and will need more attention,” said Mauchline.