Despite confirming its readiness for the new academic calendar, which began yesterday, Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane has pleaded with parents and learners to give his department three to ten days to sort out delays.
On Tuesday, spokesperson for the provincial department Steve Mabona, in spite of reports of widespread dissatisfaction with the placement of learners, with some parents threatening to take the department to court, said all the learners who applied through its online application process had been placed, including those who applied late.
“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,” Mabona said on Tuesday, a day before schools reopened.
However, the situation on the ground seemed to suggest that not all parents were satisfied with how the process unfolded, with some parents complaining that they had been forced to take spots in far-flung areas.
Some parents threatened to take legal action against the department.
On Wednesday, while addressing the re-opening of the newly renovated Kgatoentle Secondary School in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, where he accompanied Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Chiloane pleaded with parents to give him at least three days to resolve learner-placement problems in the province.
“We continue to appeal to parents to work with us on this matter. We do have high-pressure areas because of the massive residential development that has been taking place. Nonetheless, we continue to collaborate with our schools and parents. Even to roll out temporary mobile classrooms in our schools. The capacity is coming in nicely,” he said.
Chiloane indicated that the department has recorded more than 276 000 online applicants who have been placed in various schools in Gauteng.
Motshekga urged learners to desist from making a habit of doing bad things as bad habits breed a negative culture.
“We urge young people to desist from doing wrong things because these become part of your DNA. To steal or to bully others will become your DNA and to be violent will also become your DNA. What is important now is you and your books,” the minister said.
Motshekga said she is also worried about the increase in incidents of substance abuse among high school learners.
“The prevalence of substance abuse among learners is a big concern. I hear that some of you dance with beer bottles... So we really want to urge you not to smoke and drink because if you do, it’s only one way down, there’s no way up,” she said.