Matome Chiloane, MEC for Education in Gauteng, says the government is working as soon as possible to place Grade 1 and 8 learners who have yet to be given a school.
He was giving an update on learner placements and the department’s preparedness for the upcoming academic year during a media event.
The department has already placed at least 290 751 students, with 1394 still available.
Chiloane advised parents, particularly those in “pressure areas,” to be patient as the government processed the applications.
“We are working around the clock; we are engaging our schools. We are continuing to place our learners. When we started we had 292 145 complete applications. These are the parents who were able to provide all the necessary documentation and also met the deadline. We also had incomplete applications.
“To those parents [whose children have not been placed]…I am assuring you that your children will be in class. We know that patience is not endless but allow us, work with us and be patient with us. It’s a very delicate process but just know that we are aggressive in ensuring that we get these learners in classrooms,” he said at Tuesday’s briefing.
According to Chiloane, the bulk of unplaced learners come from the Olifantsfontein and Kempton Park areas.
“In Olifant, we have engaged a church where they have given us space to ensure that we close off the remaining 236 Grade 1 applicants and also there’s an additional three mobile units that will be provided to increase school capacities so that we can place all the learners.
“In Grade 8, Kempton Park area…we are still left with 501 unplaced learners. We are continuing to speak to our schools…to work together to ensure that we close off things,” he said.
Another high-pressure location is Tshwane West, which has 223 unplaced Grade 8 students, and Johannesburg West, which has 434 unplaced Grade 8 students.
According to the department, a satellite high school is being established to accommodate those students in Tshwane, while the department is seeking to take 10 classrooms at Robinhood College in Johannesburg.
Chiloane said that although the department is aware that certain schools have surpassed capacity, the right of children to an education would not be jeopardised.
“This is a double edged sword. We are left with a situation where some of our schools will be overcrowded or we are going to have a situation where some of our learners…will be at home, not being in school.
“So we have to make a choice there and we are making a choice that every child must be in a school. We will deal with everything else when a child is wearing a uniform in school. That is a priority…we are determined that we deliver on that,” he said.
The department’s other placement initiatives include:
- The procurement of 419 mobiles to address pressure of unplaced applications across the province
- The procurement of self-build classrooms to increase school capacity
- Establishing satellite schools in high pressure areas
- Working with sister departments to acquire more land to increase the number of schools in high pressure areas.