Parents warms themselves by a makeshift brazier while they queue outside the Parkview Junior School in the hope of registering their children for the next intake. Some parents started queuing on Thursday. 220512. Picture: Chris Collingridge 346

The application process in Gauteng’s suburban public schools got off to a busy start on Tuesday.

Parents who had been enduringchilly weather outside various school premises – for days in some cases – finally heaved a sigh of relief as they submitted their children’s application forms at their preferred schools.

At Rand Park High School in Randburg, parents started queueing outside the school’s gate just after midnight on Tuesday.

The school’s principal, Alan Wilke, said that when the school opened its gates at 6.30am, parents filled up the hall’s 200 chairs and another 60 continued waiting outside.

By lunchtime, the school had processed more than 500 applications for the 300 available Grade 8 spots.

“A vast majority of applicants are in our feeder area… We have a few names on the B waiting list,” Wilke said.

In terms of the Gauteng Department of Education’s admissions policy, if a parent’s residential and/or work address is within a 5km radius of the school (the feeder area), their child’s name will be on waiting list A. For those outside this feeder zone, their names are placed on waiting list B.

Mercy Bwanya, from Northgate, arrived at the school around 5am to drop off her son’s application form. She managed to submit the form only just after 11am because of the long queue.

At Parkview Junior School, some of the hundred or so parents who waited patiently outside the school on Tuesday morning had spent four days taking shifts for a chance at the school, which is counted among the top-rated government schools.

Parents said they felt the school was one of the best and that small classes meant individual attention for their children.

But all those hours of waiting next to braziers in the dead of the night seemed ridiculous after the registration process, which took just minutes to do.

In Soweto, National Association of Parents in School Governance chairman Mahlomola Kekana said the first day for applications was quiet.

“Schools in Soweto are half-empty as it is. Because former Model C schools are better resourced, parents are opting to take their children to suburban schools in the hope of a better education for their children,” he said.

The department’s spokesman, Charles Phahlane, said it was “too soon to comment as our evidence is anecdotal, but we are glad that parents are heeding the call to register their children early”.

Parents have until July 27 to submit their application forms.

By September, schools will notify parents whether their applications were successful or not.

If a child is rejected and parents wish to appeal, they must lodge an objection with the head of department within seven days after being informed of the school’s decision. They will be notified of the outcome of the appeal within 15 days.

Ultimately, it’s the department’s duty to ensure that every child of school-going age is in school.

If a child can’t be accommodated at the preferred school, the department is obliged to find another school for them. - The Star