Online school admissions system is ready - Gauteng MEC

Johannesburg - The online admissions process for Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners for the 2018 academic year in Gauteng will officially open on May 2 and parents are urged to ensure that they submit the relevant documents on time.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Tuesday announced that the system was ready to go and that the department had learnt from last year’s experience. The department improved the service for parents.

"The people of Gauteng have spoken and we have listened about the challenges they faced with the online system last year. The promise we make to the people of Gauteng is that we will work tirelessly to ensure a smooth application," Lesufi said.

Offers of placement

He said significant changes had been made to the application process, adding that if parents submitted all the necessary documents on time, they would know where their children would be placed by the end of September.

The application process would start on May 2 at 08:30 and close at midnight on June 12. The placement phase would start from July 24 to September 29, he said.

"Parents will receive SMS notification or a letter from the school, informing them that their application has been successful or otherwise," Lesufi said.

Parents who received offers of placement for their children would be given seven working days to accept or reject the offer, Lesufi said.

The new system was designed in such a way that a parent would only be granted one opportunity to register and submit their application to avoid any duplication of a learner’s details, he said.

Necessary documents

Lesufi also urged parents who were unhappy with the offer they had received to reject it  and submit an appeal with the department.

"When we give you an offer, either accept or reject it. There is an appeal process...if you don’t like [the offer], don’t keep it open because you are closing it for another learner," he said.

He said parents needed to use this time to make sure they had the necessary documents.

"Be ready because May the 2nd is not far away. If everyone can apply on time...before they get to the December holidays... they will know if their child has been placed".

System improved by 100%

Lesufi officially launched the online application system last year, despite some resistance and criticism from parents and some schools in the province.

Within hours of the applications site going live last year, it crashed. Lesufi said at the time that the initial server could only take 600 users per second. Vodacom was subsequently approached and had agreed to upgrade the servers to accommodate 20 000 users.

Lesufi said on Tuesday that the department had learnt a lesson from last year’s experience and the site this year would be able to handle more than double that amount.

"Last year, we struggled in taking 25 000 logins per second. This year, we’ve improved that by 100%. We can take up to 50 000 logins per second," he said.

The department had recorded a total of 357 447 online applications last year. The number of applications for Grade 1s was 198 493, while the Grade 8s stood at 158 954, he said.

Last pupil

At the beginning of the year, Lesufi said the waiting list for learners who were yet to be placed in schools was 58 000. The main reason, he said had been because of some parents had failed to apply on time.

He said that, in 2016, there had been 87 000 names on the waiting list and that the last pupil was only placed in May.

By the end of February this year, the last learner on the waiting list was placed, Lesufi said on Tuesday.

To avoid a similar problem this year, Lesufi urged parents to make sure they did everything on time.

"Last year, parents were stuck and frustrated. Their pain was our pain. We sensed their frustration. This time, all systems are ready.

"We don’t want to leave any student behind," Lesufi said.

Help parents

To make things easier, the department had added language options for parents to use when applying. Those living in informal settlements could also use the addresses of the nearest schools to them if their own home address could not be located on the system, he said.

At least 65 centres would be opened across the province to assist parents who did not have access to internet facilities and additional staff would be stationed at various schools and community libraries to help parents with their applications, Lesufi said.

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