The Northern Cape Department of Education has announced that electronic school admissions will be introduced from next year. Parents are seen waiting in a queue at Diamantveld Primary School last month to try and ensure placement for their children. Photo: DFA.
Kimberley - While school admissions continue to be a headache for many parents who face weeks and possibly months of not knowing whether their children have been placed at schools for next year, the Northern Cape Department of Education has announced that electronic admissions will be introduced from next year.

The electronic admissions process is expected to prevent long queues at schools as parents often camp outside their chosen school overnight to try and ensure a placement for their child.

This is little consolation for parents this year, however, most of whom are still waiting to hear if their children have been accepted at schools for next year. According to the department, it is still in the process of capturing applications for 2020.

The spokesperson of the Northern Cape Department of Education (NCDoE), Geoffrey van der Merwe, said on Tuesday that although applications for next year closed on June 7, there were late applications that also needed to be dealt with.

“Despite the closing date of June 7, 2019, pupil admissions are still in progress as a result of late applications and the capturing of applications on the NCDoE Electronic Admissions System,” Van der Merwe said. Parents/guardians had to personally enrol their children at a school for the 2020 school year from May 13 to June 7, 2019.

Van der Merwe said all applications received after June 7, 2019 were classified as late applications. 

“These applications must, however, be received and captured by the school on the NCDoE Electronic Admissions System.”

Anxious parents in Kimberley indicated on Tuesday that the department was repeating a vicious cycle of frustration and stress over admissions as some schools in the city had already indicated to parents that they had no available space.

One parent said that she had given up on enrolling her child after hearing that there was no space for grades 1 to 7 at schools.

“I went to three different schools and was told that there is no space for next year as all the grades are full. I was told that my application will be kept in a file and I will be informed by the school if there is an opening. I will, however, only know at the end of the year,” she said.

Another parent shared the same frustration.

“I wanted to enrol my child for Grade 2 but I saw on the notice board of the school that I went to that there is no space available. I was given an application form but I already know that I will have to go through the stress of not knowing which school my child will be admitted to next year. Some parents are made to wait for months into the new academic year before their children can attend school,” she said.

Some parents said that they had held off from enrolling their children in entry grades.

“It was a struggle to enrol my child into a school for Grade R. The department advised us to take them to early childhood development centres as there was no space at schools. When my child had to go to Grade 1, I was again not successful in my application. I am now told that all grades at the school are full, which means that even if I do apply, my application will be unsuccessful or I will have to wait for months before my child gets a placement,” a parent said.

Van der Merwe said that parents will know before the end of the year where their children have been placed.

“Schools are currently capturing all admission application forms on the NCDoE Electronic Admissions System and this exercise should be completed by July 19, 2019, as per the management plan. Districts will check the NCDoE Electronic Admissions System in line with the criteria and available spaces and allow further inputs from principals and then release the approved lists to schools by August 16, 2019. Letters, SMSs and e-mails will be sent to parents by the school informing them of their successful or unsuccessful applications by August 23, 2019. It is envisaged that the district director will finalise the placement of all unplaced entry grades, Grade 1 and 8, pupils who applied within the application period in schools with available spaces by October 31, 2019 and all late applications by November 29, 2019,” he said.

Van der Merwe added that they are experiencing high enrolment volumes for grades R, 1 and 8.

He said the department would next year introduce electronic admissions to avoid long queues at schools for enrolment.