Back to school: Frustration as pupils battle for places at Cape primary, high schools

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Back to school: Frustration as pupils battle for places at Cape primary, high schools
Back to school: Frustration as pupils battle for places at Cape primary, high schools

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Cape Town – Angry parents whose children remain unplaced for the 2022 school year, have reached out to the Cape Argus for help.

This as the academic year in the Western Cape is set to begin on Wednesday, with inland schools having already started this week.

Zandile James from Brackenfell said she applied to four schools for her 14-year old son – Brackenfell High School, Monument Park High School, Protea Heights Academy and Northpine Technical High School, but received no response.

James said she hoped he would be accepted at Brackenfell High School because it was closer to their home.

Another parent, Leanie Maart, said she also applied to four schools in the Paarl area long before the closing date in March last year, but that her son was not accepted by any of the schools.

“I tried to get a reason for this at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), as well as the schools, but none could give me reasons,” Maart said.

Her child’s marks were very good, and even at the school he attended last year, the teachers couldn’t understand why his application was rejected, she said.

Lotus River resident Monique Currie, whose child was rejected by eight schools, wrote to the Cape Argus in September (Learner placement process for 2022 leaving Cape parents frustrated and feeling desperate) .

After describing her frustrations, she again wrote to the paper in December.

“There has still not been any progress on my son’s Grade 8, 2022 high school placement,” she said.

The WCED has an admissions portal where parents could apply online, and parents are encouraged to apply to at least five schools.

Once the application deadline is reached, applications are reviewed and feedback is given to parents on whether their child is accepted or a school is “oversubscribed” – another way of saying the application has been rejected.

Currie said she had followed the WCED online application process and applied at eight schools instead of five, to be on the safe side, but still her son was rejected.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said despite more than 32 000 late applications, and still counting, the department had worked hard to place as many learners as possible for the start of the 2022 school year.

Hammond said placement has been stalled in some instances given the closure of schools. Additional placements could therefore be made at the start of the school year.

She said that at the end of December there were 602 Grade 1s and 3 261 Grade 8s who still had to be placed in Western Cape schools. These numbers would be updated when schools reopened on Monday.

“This is in comparison to December 2020, when 4 624 Grade 1 learners were unplaced, and 8 765 Grade 8 learners were unplaced,” she said.

ANC provincial spokesperson on education, Khalid Sayed, said they were concerned that thousands of learners in the province would once again be left in limbo when schools reopened.

“Our concern is because unplaced learners is an education crisis that crops up every January, and because the WCED has indicated that at the end of December, there were more than 600 Grade 1 learners and more than 3 000 Grade 8 learners who still were not placed in schools,” Sayed said.

He said at that time the WCED had also received more than 32 000 late applications.

The Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) said the Western Cape had an ongoing problem with unplaced pupils and that next year would be no different.

“We have received an influx of cases through our advice clinic from parents looking for placement for their children. Education districts play a vital role when it comes to assisting parents to place learners, however they can be unresponsive and send parents from pillar to post, instead of providing them with the requisite assistance,” the EELC said.

Cape Argus

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