Pretoria -

More than 1 000 schoolchildren are still waiting to be placed as an influx of pupils into Gauteng has hampered the province’s plans to reduce the number of late admissions and getting pupils into classrooms at the start of the school year.

Since schools opened on January 15, the Gauteng Education Department has received about 19 500 late applications. The late admissions figures for 2012 were 15 000 and 17 700 last year.

This was despite the department’s efforts over the past three years to cut the number of late registrations by opening the application process as early as April.

Parents are told by the end of August whether their applications have been successful or not. But the late registration numbers have stayed constant.

So far, at least 1 500 schoolchildren are still on the waiting list to be placed at schools across the province.

Gauteng Education spokeswoman Phumla Sekonyane said: “There is high migration into the province. There are different types of late admissions or learners who want to transfer from one suburb to another. Others are from other provinces and neighbouring countries. There are also parents who change their children from private to public schools. Our low-fee schools are improving and parents want to take advantage of that.

“We cannot turn away any learners – we have to cater for them. Because we know this, we plan well in advance.

“Schools have prefabricated classrooms and we have created 500 growth posts. This means we have employed new educators to deal with the influx. These are factors we have no control over and we have an obligation to put the learners in schools.”

Other than getting new teachers, new schools have also been built to accommodate the influx of pupils.

The department built 28 new schools – 17 of which were opened when the school year started.

Two schools – Bagale Primary in Lotus Gardens, west of the city, and Matlapeng Primary in Hammanskraal – were opened in the Tshwane metro. Dikago-Dintle Primary School in Winterveld in the north was reopened.

The department will continue building new schools with four more – Hammanskraal primary, Mamelodi East primary, Nellmapius primary and Rosslyn primary – to be opened in April.

Sekonyane said the pupils on the outstanding list fell into different categories – “those who are already in schools but want to transfer from one suburb to another, those who want to move from private to public schools, those who have been offered space but prefer other schools, and those who have not been placed at all”.

“This number fluctuates as applicants are placed when space becomes are available. There is still a trickle of new applications. However, this is also declining,” said Sekonyane.

Most of the 114 000 Grade 1 pupils the department had admitted this year were placed in their schools by the end of August last year, she said.

Last week, the Western Cape Education Department said the influx of pupils from the Eastern Cape had cost it about R1.2 billion. Education MEC Donald Grant said of the 122 378 pupils who had arrived in the Western Cape since 2010, about 80 percent came from the Eastern Cape.

Grant said that on average, the Western Cape government spent about R12 000 a year on a pupil.

The influx of 105 850 pupils from the Eastern Cape over the past five years had therefore cost the Western Cape government R1.2bn.

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