Johannesburg – The Gauteng Education Department (GDE) has been forced to seek help from private schools to ensure that all pupils have space in grades 1 and 8.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the admission processes this year were “painful” because of the new regulations and the impact these had on parents.
On Monday, desperate parents of unplaced pupils flocked to GDE offices across the provinces to plead their cases.
In Pretoria on Tuesday, hundreds of disgruntled parents held a meeting at Akasia Hall to call for the dismantling of the online application system, which they said had proven to be a failure after 15000 pupils could not be placed this week.
Meanwhile, Lesufi said on Tuesday that the biggest headache that needed to be resolved was placement in schools that had been approached by the department last year to increase their capacity to accommodate more pupils with either bigger classes or mobile classes.
He said some schools had blatantly refused the offer, resulting in the parents of unplaced pupils being in limbo.
“All those parents who got placements and the schools who refused to take their placement because there was that communication breakdown, we want to assure them (parents) that part will be attended to immediately,” he said.
To mitigate the capacity challenges, the department has approached affordable private schools such as Curro schools to accommodate pupils who were placed and then rejected.
“Curro has indicated they will place all unplaced pupils that we have who can afford to go to these schools,” he said.
Lesufi said the parents would pay fees equivalent to the fees they were going to pay at the public schools their children were originally placed at, and subsequently rejected.
“They would receive a 30% reduction in fees.
“This simply means that if a parent was going to pay R5000 for Parktown Girls, when you take that child to Curro that parent must not pay more than R5000,” he said.
Lesufi said the challenge for the department was that there were schools like Jeppe High School for Girls and Alberton High School that were in high demand, although the schools could only accommodate a certain number of pupils.
Parents who were unhappy about their children’s placement were encouraged to submit appeals. About 700 appeals were processed by the department’s deadline yesterday.
“Some of the appeals have been upheld, but I must emphasise that the majority were unfortunately not upheld but we will continue to place those children in schools that have vacancies,” he said.
Lesufi also reluctantly announced that the late registration process opened today until January 24.
He added that parents who had applied on time but were dissatisfied with their child’s placement must still accept the offer, otherwise the space would be offered to a late registration pupil.
According to the department, there were 912 primary schools and 374 high schools with space available for late applications.
“By the end of January we will have placed all late registration pupils because with late registration there is not a question of choice, we are opening where there is space, you apply and you’re placed,” he said.
This morning Lesufi and Premier David Makhura will officiate the reopening of schools with an official handover of the new Noordgesig Primary School in Diepkloof.