Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi. File photo: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi says the provincial department had recorded significant progress in dealing with the crisis of placements which has seen AfriForum campaign for his sacking from his post.

On Sunday, Lesufi was giving an update on the admissions and placement of pupils for 2020.

He said the department had facilitated for the placement of more than 50% of the 34 000 pupils who previously could not be placed.

“We have now drastically reduced that number to 9 000. To be specific it is 9 618,”he said.

He said the overwhelming majority of the pupils who were yet to be placed were Grade 1 prospective learners.

“That is where we want to put our energy on, to make sure that there is no grade 1 pupil without a school,”Lesufi said.

Lesufi said he understood the frustration of parents who were angry and who felt that the system was not assisting them.

“It is not the problem of the system. It is that the numbers are huge. Everyone wants to bring their children to Gauteng. We are victims of our decisions,” he said.

He said the department would do all in its power to ensure that every child was eventually in the classroom.

“We will work as hard as possible to accommodate all the remaining 9 000 pupils that need to be placed in our schools,” he said.

Lesufi said many parents had challenged the department’s placement process, including organisation which threatened to take him to court over the online application process.

“These organisations felt that we must use home address first as the eliminator before you can put other things…if you do so in this country where we had Group Areas Act, it means it will benefit those that are staying in suburbs,” he said.

AfriForum said its divisions were ready to take legal action against Lesufi over “mismanagement of the placement process” the requirement for schools to teach in English.

“The MEC believes that schools should merge to create full English-medium schools. However, the matter is not that simple and this will not solve the problem of too few schools in Gauteng in time,” said AfriForum manager of education Carien Bloem.

Lesufi said the department was working hard to ensure that all pupils were placed by the end of this week.

IOL