Thousands on waiting list

Image courtesy Ian L/

Image courtesy Ian L/

Almost a month into the 2014 academic year, the Department of Basic Education could not say yesterday how many pupils were still on the waiting list for placement in schools countrywide.

But, according to figures first disclosed by the Western Cape Department of Education, there were thousands of pupils awaiting placement in schools in that province alone at the beginning of this month.

The Gauteng Department of Education’s Phumla Sekhonyane withheld the number of pupils on the province’s waiting list, even though she conceded there were children still to be placed as a result of late registrations.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s Nompumelelo Gasa also did not respond to the enquiry, saying the basic education department would release the information.

Provincial educastion departments were approached following the national department’s failure to respond to the same enquiry seven days after it was sent.

In a response only sent late yesterday, the department could only provide the number of pupils still on the waiting lists of public schools for only five provinces. In total for the five provinces up to
5 560 pupils had yet to be placed.

The Western Cape and the North West had the largest numbers with 3 585 and 1 788 pupils on waiting lists respectively.

However, Western Cape edu-cation spokesperson Bronagh Casey said given the fact that it was known that many pupils who still appeared as unplaced in some schools were, in fact, attending other schools the figure needed to be verified.

She said: “A number of learners arrive in the first week of February as their parents were unable to pay taxi or bus fares from other provinces in January and therefore they have to wait for the January salary payment in order to pay for the transport costs.”

Another 185 pupils were on the Northern Cape’s waiting list, while KwaZulu-Natal only had two unplaced pupils. All pupils who were on Free State’s waiting list had been placed. However, the basic education department did not have figures available for Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

This was attributed to the provinces having been slow to submit the requested information. Late registration and the transfer of pupils from one town to another were just some of the common factors listed as the cause of many pupils still waiting to be placedwell into the new academic year.

Pupils applying to schools that outside of their residential area or feeder schools and lack of secondary schools in new informal settlements contributed to the problem.

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