Capacity challenges shut out hundreds of pupils

Johannesburg – Term one of the school year is coming to an end yet 629 pupils in Gauteng still have not been placed.

Last week, MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi promised that his department would make sure the pupils get placed this past Wednesday, saying this year alone the department enrolled 102 684 new pupils from outside the province.

“Of those, 21 448 migrated from Limpopo, 20 026 from KwaZulu-Natal and 25 418 being foreign citizens. So far, we have 653 learners who are still unplaced and we are striving to place them by next Wednesday,” said Lesufi at the time.

But by Thursday, spokesperson Steve Mabona said the department was still finalising the process, noting that most of the pupils had been placed.

“There is a shortage of schools and areas are developing rapidly. We are working tirelessly to resolve our infrastructural challenges,” said Mabona.

On how these children would catch up on missed work, Mabona said annual teaching plans are adjusted to accommodate recovery of curriculum time lost.

“Schools are aware that we need to accommodate some learners accordingly.”

Mabona said it was mostly grade 1 and grade 8 pupils who are affected in Tshwane West, Tshwane North, Johannesburg Central, Johannesburg East, Ekurhuleni South and North.

Although the Western Cape has already got the ball rolling for applications for next year, Mabona said in Gauteng they are working on improving the system and would announce, in due course when parents can start applying for grade 1 and grade 8 for next year.

Parents have complained on social media that the online application system is not working, noting that they often have to move their children to schools they didn’t choose, sometimes far from their homes.

But Mabona said the system is effective, adding that the challenge is migration as some parents are moving from private schools because they can no longer afford to pay schools fees. He said they also have a capacity challenge, especially in high-pressure areas.

“Our schools cannot accommodate all applicants, hence we find ourselves in this situation. However, we transferred funds to schools to build more classes while in the interim mobile units are delivered at schools to alleviate the pressure,” said Mabona.

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