Parents panic while education department is mum on pupils’ placements

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With less than 10 days until schools reopen, the admission of pupils in Grades 1 and 8 remains a dilemma countrywide, with many parents frustrated by the lack of communication from the education department and some complaining about having to buy school uniforms and stationery but not knowing the facts.

The Citizen reports, as South African schools prepare for the roll-out of the 2022 academic year, the department of basic education’s (DBE) spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said the issue of unplaced pupils has happened in every province, every year, as a result of people having relocated from one place to another.

“The number of unplaced pupils will be known once schools open and districts report new and unexpected requests for admission,” he said.

“The two provinces with the largest numbers are always Gauteng and Western Cape.”

A parent, Grace Motsepe, said she was worried her children would still be at home, waiting to be placed, when schools reopen, while she is waiting for a response on her appeal for another school from the Gauteng department of education (GDE).

Motsepe said while her children were placed closer to home around Ga-Rankuwa, Soshanguve and Mabopane, the children attended primary schools in outlying areas where they were doing English and Afrikaans only.

“Now, you cannot expect a child to start Xitsonga or Sepedi at high school level. That is basically setting them up for failure and also there are problems, such as crime and drugs in those areas,” she said.

“The clock is ticking for school admissions, but nothing is heard from the department and it is so frustrating to think we still have to buy new uniforms, go and get the stationery list from the school, look for transport. The stationery is probably finished at this point.”

Another parent, Steven Stanton, said the department’s silence spoke volumes and revealed their incompetence.

He alleged he had been sent from pillar to post in a bid to secure placement for his daughter.

In the Western Cape, as of 22 December, more than 3 000 Grade 8 pupils were waiting for admission to schools, and 602 Grade 1 pupils, according to Western Cape education department spokesperson Millicent Merton.

Meanwhile Limpopo education department spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said they were not sure how many pupils had not been placed as many people were still on the festive break.

The department would issue an update later.

“The only report we have for now is for November, which is outdated, so we still have to compile a full report,” she said.

Reitumetse Makwea / The Citizen