Gauteng education dept website beefed up after crash - MEC

Johannesburg - The Gauteng education department has increased the capacity of its website after it crashed on Monday when online school registrations opened for next year.

The site had 600 hits per second on Monday, Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi told reporters on Wednesday.

But since then, work had been done on their servers and the website would now be able to handle 3 000 visitors per second.

"The system is now up and running," Lesufi said. 

Lesufi explained that the crash was caused by the scores of people who had visited the site, some of whom were not parents or guardians of prospective Grade 1 and Grade 8 pupils needing placement for next year.  

Others who logged on were parents from other provinces, or people who were simply curious about the online registration process, Lesufi said. 

The department has since decided to do away with the first phase of the application process following the crash. 

"We were meant to have two phases, the first being parents pre-loading theirs and their children's details. The second phase would have been the actual application... We have taken a decision to suspend the first phase so that we can concentrate on the actual registration," he said. 

'We have done our homework'

While many people had taken to Twitter to complain about the site, some claiming that it was capturing incorrect details, Lesufi said the problem had been resolved. 

"The registration process will start at 08:00 on April 19," said Lesufi, adding that he apologised for the glitch. 

"We have done our homework. The system will help us to solve key problems," he said. 

The system would be tested on government workers before April 19, who would access the system and make applications for their children. 

Lesufi stressed, however, that government workers would not get preferential treatment, but that they were simply being used to test the system. 

"They will need to reapply on the 19th," he said. 

He explained that the benefits of this new system would see the department being able to ensure that it had enough teachers in schools before the school term started and that learners had access to furniture and textbooks. 

Schools which required bigger budgets would be identified beforehand and allocated the funds in time. 

But not everyone took kindly to the new paperless system. 

Some parents and School Governing Body officials had rejected the system. 

"People are snubbing us because they don't want to let go of benefits. There are people who had unfair benefits through the papers system. If they want to hold on to those privileges using language and other things, good luck," said Lesufi. 

Sibling link option

Parents of around 200 000 children expected to start Grade 1 next year and thousands of Grade 8 pupils could submit their applications online until June. 

From June until September, the department would deal with the placements of the learners. 

Explaining how the system would work, Lesufi said: "If your child is going to continue in the same school next year, there is no need to reapply. Only if they are leaving to go to another school or if you are outside the Gauteng province and your child is coming here," he said.

Once parents had uploaded their details, they had the option of using either their home or work address to request that their child be allocated to a school close to one of the addresses. The system would automatically give three options of schools for the parents to choose from. 

There was also a sibling link option, where the parents could request that a child be allocated in a school because they had siblings there. 

Thirdly, parents would be allowed to choose their own school, but a child would only be placed in that school if there was space after all learners in that area had been placed.

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