This week, Gauteng parents and guardians began to hear at which school their prospective gr. 1 and gr. 8 learners will be placed for next year.
The Gauteng Department of Education started placements on Monday after receiving more than 300,000 applications for both degrees. The department says a total of 228,027 learners have been placed so far.
However, according to the latest placement figures, less than 100,000 placements have been finally accepted. A total of 126,511 parents or guardians have not yet responded to the placements and 1,662 of those who have already received a placement offer are waiting for possible placements at other schools.
The department says parents and guardians are advised not to hastily accept or reject placements; they have seven school days to decide on it.
However, should the placement offer not be responded to within the given time, learners will automatically be placed at one of the schools where they have been accepted and which is closest to the parents’ or guardians’ home address.
“As placements are received, schools reach capacity and those who do not accept a placement are transferred over time to schools with available space,” says the department.
Incomplete applications – i.e. applications with outstanding documents or no valid proof of address – will only be able to choose a school with available space from December.
Many top schools in the province were caught off guard about next year’s placements after the department carried out its own capacity assessment and apparently indicated that several schools had not reached their full learner capacity.
In some cases, the schools have been informed that next year they will receive hundreds more gr. 1- or gr. 8 learners must accept, which will have serious consequences for learners’ safety and the quality of teaching.
Dr. However, Jaco Deacon, chief executive of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas), says the education department informed on Friday through the acting head of education, Rufus Mmutlana, that placements for next year are still in accordance with the capacity indicated by the schools themselves will be done.
Schools used to carry out independent capacity assessments which showed that they were already taking the maximum number of learners.
According to Deacon, he was told that the admission process in Gauteng is based “on more realistic numbers”.
“We will not hesitate to take action, should education officials try to exceed their powers or bully schools again,” he says.
Several schools have indicated earlier that they support a court application regarding the capacity battle, should it become necessary.