Thousands object to school placements in Gauteng

Department of Education working to resolve contested placements and unplaced grades 1 and 8 learners

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Parents and guardians waited for hours in line outside the provincial education department’s Ekurhuleni North District Office in Benoni on Wednesday. Photo: Mzwandile Mamaila

  • Parents in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, waited in snaking queues outside the provincial education department’s District Office this week to resolve school placement issues.
  • A mother we interviewed says her child was placed at a primary school about 34km away and there was no affordable transport available.
  • The Gauteng Department of Education says it is working to resolve contested placements and to find schools for learners still waiting in grades 1 and 8.
  • More mobile classrooms have been sent to some schools to mitigate overcrowding.

Parents in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, have been waiting in snaking queues outside the provincial education department’s Ekurhuleni North District Office in a bid to resolve their children’s school placement issues.

As many learners started school in Gauteng on Wednesday, we spoke to parents outside the office who were upset that the department had registered their children at schools far from where they live, while others were still waiting for their children to be placed. Cars, camping chairs, and umbrellas filled Howard Avenue as parents waited for hours, hoping for assistance from officials.

A mother from Daveyton, who asked not to be named, said her young child was placed at Kempton Park Primary School, some 34 kilometres away. She said her child was not accepted at all three of their preferred schools closer to home.

Following a number of emails and phone calls to the Gauteng Department of Education, she was advised to accept the placement.

“They said just accept and then we will see after 30 November if there’s a place at the schools we applied to,” she said. When she found out that her child had been placed at Kempton Park Primary, she went to the school to try and find affordable scholar transport, to no avail.

When we spoke to the mother on Wednesday, she had already been waiting for hours. She was not assisted that day because loadshedding had disrupted services.

Nonjabulo Zikalala told GroundUp that her sister was placed at Masisebenze High School in Tembisa for grade 8. Zikalala said they live in Clayville and cannot afford the R50 per day transport cost to the school. She said she has been to at least six schools this week without success and decided to come to the district office for help.

“It would be better if they can cancel the online applications, then we will be able to go to whatever schools that we want,” said Zikalala.

Gauteng Department of Education spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said they received 139,464 completed applications for grade 1, and 152,681 applications for grade 8 in 2022. Mabona said the department is still assisting parents who had incomplete online applications as well as unplaced learners. He said 236 grade 1 learners and 1,158 grade 8 learners are still waiting to be placed in a school.

“The Department has received 4,801 appeals emanating from objected placements offered to applicants. We are working tirelessly to finalise these appeals.”

To address admissions pressure and overcrowding, the Department transferred funds to 297 schools for over 800 additional classrooms. The Department stated that one new primary and three new secondary schools are expected to open this year to help alleviate the influx of learners.

TOPICS:  Education

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

I am also a parent looking for placement for my son for grade 3 and the struggle is real. It's such a hassle getting into the schools. We fill in forms the previous year only to be on the waiting list. This 10-day waiting period is affecting us as parents since we have to take the child with us to work because he cannot stay at home alone.

This problem has to be resolved. Kids are frustrated being home.

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