Thousands of Gauteng learners have nowhere to go on 1st school day
As schools reopened across SA today, some grade one and grade eight pupils in the Gauteng province were left out of starting the 2017 academic year, as they are yet to be placed in school.
These grade one and grade eight pupils make up the first group of learners that were required to apply for their preferred school via the Gauteng Department of Education's (GDE) online registration system.
According to the GDE, the move to introduce the learner admissions site was to ease pressure during school registration time and modernise placements for learners going to grades one and eight.
Despite this, a number of system hiccups were recorded, including the site crashing; parents experiencing technical glitches when trying to register their children; a high number of hacking attempts; and the department also faced allegations that the idea of the site was stolen.
While the GDE weathered the rocky start of its online admissions portal, it now faces further upheaval as it attempts to ensure those grade one and grade eight learners start the academic year with their peers.
The department says the majority of parents who used the online system have had their children placed.
In a statement, the Gauteng education department revealed that as of midday on 10 January, 18 000 learners had been placed, reducing the total number of unplaced learners from 58 000 to 40 000.
Although the GDE does reveal how many of the learners going to grade one and grade eight must still be placed, yesterday, Eyewitness News reported that 45 000 learners in those two grades had not been placed in a school.
"The department is working hard to place all learners and assures parents that all their children will be placed in a Gauteng school," according to the statement.
Reason for delay
The parents of learners starting grade one or grade eight in 2017 had a 1 June 2016 deadline to submit their applications for school placements, and 79 000 applications were received after this deadline, according to the department.
The GDE admitted that applications submitted after the initial deadline played a significant role in school placement. "Over the past two days, the department has been inundated by parents applying for the first time."
In November, the Gauteng education department appealed to parents to confirm offers of placement or risk losing the offers to others on the waiting list. At the time, 51 200 parents had yet to confirm their offers of placement, according to the department.
This delay on the part of the parents is clogging up the system, making it difficult for the department to place all learners who have applied, said the GDE.
At the end of last year, the department revealed it received over 310 000 online applications for learners in grades one and eight, and almost 74% of these learners were placed in schools.
According to the GDE, at least 176 348 were for grade one and 136 056 were for grade eight. Over 229 000 learners in both grades have so far been placed in schools.
Other reasons why the department could not complete the placement of learners is that Gauteng faces a shortage of schools, it said. "Many parents that applied early could not be placed.
"Schools could not update the system due to the December holidays," it added.