The number of online applications for the Grade1 and Grade 8 far outstrips the capacity of space available at Gauteng schools, warned Panyaza Lesufi, Gauteng MEC of education. He said the total classroom capacity of the province is 373 000 while the number of applications processed is at around 410 000.
Lesufi was briefing the media after the deadline for online registration was reached two months ago. Registration opened on 25 June 2020 and closed on 25 July 2020.
Gauteng department of education adopted the online registration platform to administer and manage the registration process as well as implement its learner admission policy in the province. Lesufi said the online registration system assists his department to eliminate registration and administrative backlog.
He said from Thursday this week parents will have seven ‘school ‘days within which to accept or reject the placement of their learners, adding that offers that are not accepted within the stipulated timeframe will be forfeited. Parents will be notified via sms about where their children are placed or if they have not been assigned to the school of their choice, he said.
Lesufi said they received a total number of 157 000 applications; 34 000 are for Grade 1 while 35 000 are for Grade 8. He said 30 000 parents have submitted the required application documents such as identity or passport numbers, certificate of birth of the child and proof of residence. He added that 3 000 Grade 1 and 4 000 Grade 8 leaners will not be placed because their parents have failed to provide the required information.
Lesufi said his department uses four criteria when they place learners:
- proximity to school
- learner who lives within the radius of the feeder area
- capacity of the school to accommodate learners and
- type of school i.e. co-eds or specialised school
He said there are four ‘pressure areas’ where there is always a high demand for schools. These areas, Lesufi said; include Montana in Tshwane, Centurion, Midrand-Woodmead-Sandton Corridor and the south. But Lesufi said they are trying to keep with the demands for schools in these fast developing areas. What we are doing during the online registration process is to “use the applications we received to determine the number of schools to be built”, he said.
He also shared the list of both primary and high schools that have experienced high application volumes. The first three primary schools that received more applications are: Laerskool Akasia which received 1 515 applications while it has a capacity for 182 learners. It is followed by Laerskool Teresa Park with 1 237 applications while it can only accommodate 190 learners. The third one on the list is Laerskool Rachel de Beer with 1073 application received and can only accommodate 240.
Popular High schools that attracted more interest from parents this year are Alberton High which pulled 2 376 while it can only take 210, Hoerskool Langehoven which can only accommodate 280 received 2 040. The third school is Sir James Adamson which received 2 025 with the same capacity of 280.
Lesufi remarked that it is clear from these figures that majority of these schools all cater for single medium communities. He said often the use of the single medium is used to cater for a small minority while the majority of learners are excluded from enrolling at these schools simply on the basis of language. He said this is unfortunate and it cannot be allowed.
Lesufi said there is a noticeable improvement of the quality of public education and he thanked principals and school governing bodies of public schools saying because of their hard work “we are giving private schools a run for their money” in terms of academic performance.
“To us this is a vote of confidence in our public education. We therefore need to move with speed to ensure that the public education schools continue to improve and provide quality education in a conducive environment,” said Lesufi.