Pretoria - The provincial Department of Education on Monday apologised for glitches experienced during the first day of the online applications for Grade 1 and 8 for the 2020 academic year.
Spokesperson Steve Mabona said there were delays and challenges in several areas, including issues of addresses as parents selected the new 30km radius instead of their residential addresses.
“We acknowledge that as a department we need to rectify that and plead with parents not to worry if they have a reference number for the 30km radius; as when they submit their forms at the schools we will be able to verify addresses before the placements are done.”
Mabona said that after the registration parents had to ensure they submitted their documentation within seven working days.
“With the quality of education we provide in Gauteng, we anticipate an increase in learners requiring placement. But we will look at what we had last year and look at the possibility of provisionally having an increment that will assist us to plan for the shortage.”
Mabona said that owing to problems experienced at the Atteridgeville application centre, for instance, officials opted to take information from parents manually. “We can confirm that officials are processing all those parents and as such they will receive an SMS notifying them of their applications accordingly.
“We advise people to use Google Chrome for the registration process. Many people who have been using their cellphones did not have problems, hence we ask parents to try that route.”
Parents can apply to a maximum of five schools using any of the five application options outlined in the amendments to the admissions by no later than July 22.
About 250000 parents had applied for places for their children for the 2020 academic year by late on Monday.
“We have 320000 spaces so if we are already at almost 250000 we are reaching our target,” the department said.
Parents said they were pleased by the speedy process, with some applauding the department for offering assistance at the Diepsloot Youth Centre as they were unemployed and did not have internet access at home.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said there could be some delays with the system owing to the high numbers of applications, urging parents to keep trying until they completed their applications.
“The online admissions system was initially meant to go live a week ago and the department had to delay it following letters by some stakeholders who raised concerns regarding implementation of the newly-amended admissions regulations and feeder zones on the system. Parents have until midnight on July 22 to apply, and have been urged to apply on time to avoid disappointment."
In Atteridgeville, parents were still standing in queues late into the day waiting to be assisted.
Lesufi said there were minor system glitches, but by lunchtime the department already had more than 200000 applications, which went up by 50000 later in the day.
However, in Atteridgeville parents were huddled trying to assist each other on their cellphones while others stood outside waiting to be helped. An official at the centre said the system was on and off.
Carien Bloem of AfriForum said: “Lesufi is quick to point fingers at parties who always have problems with the system and accuses them of being liars or always trying to fight for the continued existence of Afrikaans.
"Unfortunately, one could only speculate about the sincerity of Lesufi’s motives, because it appears the system has not been adjusted with the necessary thoroughness as agreed upon.”