Cape Town -

More than two weeks into the first term, about 900 pupils are still waiting to find places at schools.

Most of these pupils were in the southern peninsula and Mitchells Plain. Western Cape Education Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said the number of pupils enrolled at schools for this year had been much higher than last year.

“Our provisional figures show that enrolment in Grades 1 to 12 has increased by about 13 200 in the Western Cape for 2014. Most of these learners enrolled last year, so we could plan ahead to accommodate them.

“For example, the department placed 52 mobile classrooms on 31 sites by the start of the year in ‘hot spot’ areas. The provisional figures show that 565 schools enrolled more learners for 2014 compared to 2013, while 351 schools enrolled fewer learners.”

Attwell said the Metro South Education District was making good progress in placing the pupils.

“They have brought the waiting down to 900 for the district as a whole and expect further progress by the end of the day. Metro South covers mainly the southern peninsula and Mitchells Plain.”

He said the Metro North district had the largest number of schools that enrolled more pupils (116), followed by Metro Central (89) and Cape Winelands (87).

The Metro Central district had the largest number of schools that enrolled fewer pupils for this year (55), followed by Cape Winelands (54) and Metro East (51).

“A total of 375 primary schools and 141 high schools enrolled more learners this year, while 80 primary schools and 122 high schools enrolled fewer learners,” Attwell said.

He said the department was working with parents to find places for these pupils.

“Our main challenge has been late registrations in certain areas. We have officials in every district who are working with schools full-time to place the children.

“We are also using a new online system to identify schools with vacancies – for example, those that have enrolled fewer learners this year.”

Attwell said the department was processing data captured online by schools for its snap survey, taken on Tuesday.

“Schools had to capture details on every learner on this system by this date. The department now has to verify the data before submitting it to the Department of Basic Education by February 18.”

The department had been criticised by the ANC in the Western Cape for the high numbers of pupils who had not been enrolled at schools.

ANC Western Cape education spokeswoman Millicent Tingwe said she was concerned that “parents have to fight to get their children placed in schools”.

“Overall the ANC suspect that a lot of manipulation still takes place to keep admission of learners exclusive and that the state of Western Cape education is not what it is presented to be.”

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Cape Times