Nadia Seedat’s children still haven't been placed a month into the school year. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Nadia Seedat’s children still haven't been placed a month into the school year. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

Mom's futile battle to place kids in school

By Amanda Maliba Time of article published Feb 5, 2017

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Johannesburg - Nearly a month into the school year, *Nadia Seedat’s two children, a six-year-old Grade 1 and 14-year-old Grade 8 pupil, are languishing at home with with no school to go to and their future hanging in the balance.

The children have been waiting to be placed into a school along with thousands of other pupils who have yet to be accommodated in Gauteng schools this year.

“There is nothing that I haven’t tried. I have called the district over 200 times, went there personally numerous times,” said the distraught mother from Lenasia, south of Joburg. “I have applied online and even went to the schools to try to get my kids placements but all my efforts have yielded no results.

“I don’t know what to do any more.”

Her children are among 9000 pupils that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) is battling to find places for in schools in the province.

“Before I could successfully apply online, around June, a notice was put up that the system is undergoing maintenance. I kept trying non-stop until I attended an admission open day at the district on October 2,” Seedat said.

“I managed to get assistance and applied successfully. But ever since that time, I have not received any feedback of what is happening with my application.“When I approached the schools to register, I was redirected to the online system because applications for Grade 1s and Grade 8s are done online, I was told. But what does one do when you are getting no response?”

The Gauteng Department of Education online registration service went live in April after experiencing problems in its initial stages.

When Seedat checked to see the progress of the applications during the interview with the Sunday Independent, it was still pending.

She said the frustration of waiting to go to school was beginning to affect her children. “They can tell that they are missing out on the term and on something that they should receive as it is a basic right,” she said.

In a letter, her eldest son detailed his frustration at staying home for almost month: “I know some kids think it is nice to be at home and not to worry about homework at all, well I thought the same until now. I see that it is actually bad because of the work we’ll have to do and catch up with.” he wrote.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the department has made serious strides to substantially reduce the number of online applicants that were unplaced from 58000 to 2131.

“The main cause of the delay is the lack of spaces in schools in some areas and the fact that some parents applied after the deadline of June 1 – 78000 applications were received after the deadline.”

In some instances, Lesufi said, the process between the schools and districts took longer than anticipated.

“However thousands of parents have applied for the first time in January and to date 19025 such applications have been received.

“Still the department has managed to place 10390 of such applications,” he said.

Lesufi insisted there was a plan in place to deal with the delay.

*Not her real name to protect her identity

Sunday Independent

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