About 72 000 Gauteng children may have to stay at home come the first day of school next year, as there is simply no space to accommodate them.
According to a 2017 school readiness report, released to the portfolio committee on education last month, Gauteng had the biggest admissions challenge out of all the provinces.
The department had received almost 280 000 applicants for grades 1 to 8, but to date only 225 505 had been allocated a seat in a classroom.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said yesterday that even though the Gauteng province continued to build and hand over schools on a monthly basis, it would never be enough.
“There will just be more pupils who need to be placed [next year]… They have nowhere to go, but we have a responsibility to educate them.
“The reality of the situation is that the schools are full,” he said, adding that makeshift schools were only a short-term solution.
One of the exacerbating problems was the migration to urban hubs where the quality of schooling and school infrastructure was considered to be of a better standard.
Mhlanga said the only long-term answer was that the communities, the parents and the pupils had to fight to keep the doors open and space available for incoming children.
Instead of migrating to urban areas, schools in rural areas could be better maintained with the support of the communities, but above all children had to be encouraged to study and pass.
Failure rates and pupils who had to repeat years meant chairs weren’t left empty for those who were entering their study years for the first time or trying to move forward into an advanced year.
Another headache the department is grappling with is a shortage of teachers for some classes and an excess of teachers for many others.
Teachers for general subjects, such as English and maths, are easier to come by than those who can teach indigenous languages and more specialised subjects, for example.
Just over 13 000 teachers won’t have blackboards to write on come the start of the term.
Though the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have the highest number of unemployed teachers, over 1 000 in Gauteng won’t have work.
Another worrying factor for pupils who actually get into schools is the conditions and the buildings they have to study in.
The report outlines that, nationwide, 81 schools function without water and 66 don’t have proper toilet facilities.
In addition, 571 operate without electricity and in 482 schools the buildings are considered “inappropriate” for learning.
The majority of the above schools are in the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.