The Gauteng Education Department, which has been highly scrutinised for its “chaotic” online registration, says it is ready for the start of the academic year.
This is in spite of a widespread dissatisfaction with the placement of learners, with some parents threatening to take the department to court.
According to the SABC, some disgruntled parents gathered outside the Ekurhuleni District Office in Meyersdal as they tried to get their children placed in time for the reopening of schools on Wednesday.
Over the years, it has become a common occurrence to see desperate parents and their children trying to get placed.
This year has been no different as the public broadcaster reported that many parents and children have expressed their frustration at the system with many complaining about being allocated schools that are too far from their homes, while others say they have not been placed, despite applying on time.
Responding to The Star, Department of Education spokesperson Gauteng, Steve Mabona said every learner has been placed.
“We have placed everyone. We can also confirm that more than 34 000 late applications were recorded since we opened the system on December 18, 2023. Late registration applicants are automatically placed after choosing a school,” he said.
However, Johnell Prinsloo, Policy Analyst and Researcher for Solidarity Research Institute (SRI), differs with the assertions by the provincial department.
SRI has described the department’s planning as sloppy and poor as the system continues to leave parents and pupils frustrated each year.
“Solidarity condemns the sloppy planning of the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), which once again has resulted in challenges with school placements at the start of the 2024 academic year.
“This poor planning by the department also clearly shows the possible consequences of the proposed Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (Bela bill) on school management,” Prinsloo said.
Prinsloo said Solidarity’s Teachers’ Network is also concerned about the Bela Bill with the network advocating for it to be opposed.
“The department’s inability to carry out its mandate in terms of the South African Schools Act (SASA) and its inability to plan, hampers quality education. This poses a danger to the future of our country’s children,” Prinsloo said.
“It is clear that the GDE’s online placement system, which already takes away responsibility from the schools, will be used in trying to change Afrikaans schools’ language demographics, thereby implementing the Bela legislation,” Prinsloo added.
According to Anlia Archer, co-ordinator of the Teachers’ Network, large numbers of unplaced learners are an indication of reckless mismanagement and a serious lack of planning, which forces many schools in Gauteng to reconsider their already completed planning for 2024.
“The reality is that the department has long been aware of the number of learners that could be expected per grade annually. It is only now, less than a week before schools reopen, that they are paying attention to this,” Archer added.