Weeks after school resumed all around the country, report has it that about 13000 young South African pupils are still loitering around without placement in Gauteng schools.
Though education department is at its best in decreasing the backlog of unplaced pupils at Gauteng schools, the provincial education department spokesperson Oupa Bodibe said the number of unplaced learners whose parents had applied via the online registration system has been drastically reduced to about 4400 from an initial backlog of 58000.
“For those who applied online‚ we really want to finish placing their children earlier than the estimated time because it would be unfair to those parents because they did use the system‚ even though some of them used it late‚” said Bodibe who also noted that the department has only managed to place 3000 pupils out of the over 12000 late applications received.
“But those who walked into our offices‚ we are [expecting to place them] between the end of February and beginning on March is our deadline,” he added.
As at Wednesday‚ the total number of unplaced learners – online and walk-in applications combined – is 13000, according to the education department which also revealed that the reason for the delay in placement is the overwhelming demand for spaces where schools are completely full.
“We reiterate our deep sense of empathy with the parents whose children are still not placed and commit to accelerate placement to at least eliminate the backlog of online applications. Unfortunately‚ for parents that have just walked into our operations centres‚ this may take a while‚” the department said in a statement.
The delay in placing pupils in Gauteng schools comes as a result of the new admission system where parents had to go online to apply for their children. Some schools in Pretoria attempted to resist the new system in order to maintain past practices‚ and some ran a parallel admission process.
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi explained that the backlog of online applications made it difficult to accommodate the children in the first school of choice of a parent. He appealed to parents to accept the offers given by districts.
While the education department battles to settle school children in their various schools, President Jacob Zuma called for school principals and management teams, whose schools performed poorly, to be severely punished, adding that he will not entertain anymore ‘ineptitude’ and ‘incompetence’ in the public service sector.
The president, who was the chief speaker at the three-day Basic Education Sector Lekgotla gathering, used the medium to tackle issues like learner dropout rate and grade repetition.
He told the crowd that his government will always prioritize education because South Africa can only win the struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality through quality education.
“I wish to emphasize that there must be consequences for principals and school management teams who recorded a zero percent pass rate. We must not allow any room in the public service for ineptitude and incompetence. Everyone must strive for excellence, more so in education,” he said as he called on appropriate bodies to ensure stationery packs are delivered to school before the month runs out.
The President’s warning followed the slightly improved overall matric pass rate for 2016 matric class which rested at 72.5%, compared with 70.7% in 2015.