Frustrated parents demand children be placed in schools
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Pretoria - As some parents celebrated the opening of schools yesterday, others were frustrated by the failure to get their children placed.
At Thuto Thebe Primary School in Ga-Rankuwa Zone 1, parents desperate to get their children placed in schools stormed in, demanding that they be given space immediately.
The parents had been queuing before dawn since Monday, saying their children had not been placed, or were accommodated far from where they stayed.
Rudzani Monyayi from Orchards said they had been visiting schools in Akasia with a list of children needing to be placed in schools closer to home or needing placement, but were referred to the district.
"We have started a forum as parents and want to submit at various schools closer to us.
"We applied last year when the system was opened and chose schools closer to where we stay. But my child was placed in a school that is about 15km away; I rejected the offer, but they placed my child there automatically.“
Monyayi said he was frustrated because the online application system was failing parents, and he was worried not only about the distance of the school, but other factors as well.
"There are other things that I do not like about the school where my child is placed, as there are scandals of drugs and prostitution.“
He said the department needed to bring back the old system of applications as it was easy and convenient for parents.
Another parent in the forum said the system did not cater for siblings and placed them in different schools, yet they both qualified to be in the same school.
"It is an inconvenience as there are many things to consider, like the expenses and logistics associated with having children in different schools.”
Many parents also said they were worried about buying stationery and uniforms.
Meanwhile, in Mamelodi, it was all systems go as Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile visited schools to assess readiness.
Speaking at Sikhanyisele Primary School in Mamelodi East, Maile said he was happy with the sense of purpose and attitude displayed by both principals and teachers.
"Principals should start running schools as businesses so that they can be able to diversify the activities that are taking place.
"This will help schools to raise additional resources which can be used to enhance our education system, and also help bridge the gap of inequality which has been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic," Maile said.
Despite the positive scenes at schools visited by government officials, long lines of parents also queued outside various schools and the Education Department's offices across the city.
Gauteng opened late applications for unplaced Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners.
“Parents will be able to apply online and upload documents or hand-deliver hard copies to the school. Each parent may apply to one school only, and the learner will be automatically placed at the one school applied to,” notices plastered across the offices said.
The department also said it received 335 091 Grade 1 and 8 applications for the 2022 academic year, and a total of 276 564 online admission applicants had already been successfully placed. More than 800 appeals were yet to be finalised and just over 1 400 learners remained unplaced.
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, who reopened the newly refurbished Setlabotjha Primary School in Emfuleni accompanied by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to mark the start of the 2022 academic year, provided an update on online admissions.
“This morning as we join other provinces in resuming this year’s academic year, there are some parents who are supposed to be at home taking care of their children that we did not conclude to place or did not find a school,” Lesufi said.
The MEC apologised to those parents on behalf of the department and said that last year during the same period there were almost 35 000 learners who had not been placed.
“This year we are left with less than 700 learners who still need to be placed. The 35 000 that could not be placed last year were placed by the end of March and I want to assure parents that the 700 we need to place as a government will be placed before the end of January,” he said.
Lesufi said the problem was not insufficient places or schools, but that parents preferred certain schools and the demand for these schools was too high.
“We are building schools in the townships, but there is this mentality that the township is bad and the former model-C schools are better. The reality is that there is no school teacher that was trained differently and I’m proud of the quality of teachers we have,” the MEC said.
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, who was inspecting the reopening of schools in Randfontein, said in some instances parents apply for schools and their children are admitted but they don’t show up.
“Between today, tomorrow and Friday we will be able to see where there are empty spots to place learners. We want parents to be patient with us and allow us today and tomorrow to see if we can find spots,” the minister said.
*Additional reporting by Betty Moleya