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School placement backlog declines in the province

Applications for next year open on March 14 and close on April 15.

Applications for next year open on March 14 and close on April 15.

Published Mar 5, 2022


Cape Town - More than 100 Grade 1s and 428 Grade 8s are still waiting for placement at schools in the Western Cape.

Since the end of December, the Western Cape Education Department(WCED) has placed 449 Grade 1 pupils and 2 833 Grade 8 pupils at schools across the province.

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WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said they were pleased with the progress made as they had received an additional 6 000 late applications in December and January.

“We will not, however, be satisfied until we have placed all pupils. We are still, to this day, receiving new applications where parents failed to apply.

“In many cases, parents are apathetic and just don’t want to adhere to the enrolment time frames. Filling out forms and supplying proof of birth certificates and report cards is not something that we all look forward to, no matter what the circumstance.

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“However, this is one of the most important forms a parent can and should fill out, and despite how administratively burdensome one may perceive it to be, it is also a necessity. It is also only required twice in your child’s 12-year school career (entering Grade R/1 or Grade 8). The online system has made it easier for parents to apply and has cut out the administrative burden,” she said.

Applications for next year open on March 14 and close on April 15.

Hammond said it was important for parents to apply during the required time frame.

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“It assists with future planning. For example, a mobile unit or school does not happen overnight, it requires budget approval, required procurement and planning, various permissions such as environmental impact assessment (EIA) and then construction.

“We also need to determine the next year’s basket of educators which is consulted in July of the preceding year. If our data was more accurate in terms of needs and demands for the next school year, we can plan better. It also affects textbook, furniture, equipment and pupil transport provisioning and planning,” she said.

Chief executive of the SA Teachers’ Union (SAOU) Chris Klopper said they truly lament the fact that these pupils could not be placed.

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“It is a symptom of the following: late registrations by parents, the shortage of schools and an inadequate school-building programme, the education budget has been decreased annually since 2015 (including the Western Cape’s equitable share) and the fact that the funds do not follow the pupil. These pupils are in all probability learners from other provinces, notably the Eastern Cape.

“Pupils are entitled to access to education. The WCED will just have to find a solution, even if a temporary school(s) in the informal settlements has to be built. But then communities will have to realise they can’t continually vandalise schools as they only disadvantage their own children,” he said.

Executive director of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) Basil Manuel said: “The difficulties of school placements are well documented, particularly in the provinces that have economic growth and stability. The WCED does, however, not have a good track record with placing these learners. I must stress that we view this blatant neglect as troubling. This calls for better planning, better interventions early in the preceding year.

“Education in SA needs an overhaul. Children need to be placed at the centre. The gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged schools must be narrowed. If this is not addressed, the disparities will remain. This is a recipe for disaster and mayhem,” he said.

Parents can visit to apply for pupils. To assist parents, the WCED will have pop-up stands at malls across the city to help enrol pupils from 9am until 3pm.

On March 19 and 20, they will be at Airport Shopping Centre in Belhar and Cape Gate Shopping Centre in Brackenfell. On March 26 and 27 they will be at Gugulethu Mall and Khayelitsha Mall, and on April 2 and 3 they will be at Parow Centre and N1 City Mall.

Parents should bring the pupil’s ID/birth certificate, immunisation card, transfer card/letter, last school report card for pupils who have been to school and a study permit issued by Home Affairs for foreign pupils.

Weekend Argus