‘Education system is failing us’

2018-01-21 05:46

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Violent protests broke out at Hoërskool Overvaal this week after 55 pupils, to be taught in English, were denied access to the Afrikaans-medium school after a Gauteng Department of Education directive to take in the pupils was struck down by the Gauteng High Court. WATCH

Parents with children unplaced in schools were fuming this week because their kids had to stay at home for the crucial opening week of the 2018 academic year.

Having spent R60 to travel to Ormonde from Orange Farm, a distance of about 35km, this was too much for a desperate family dependent on a social grant.

“This education system is failing us,” said Thakasile Vilakazi, who described her struggle to get a place for her 12-year-old son Nelson as the most “frustrating experience” ever.

She reckons her child could not be placed because he has special needs.

It was only after she alerted education officials at the department’s admission centre at Crownwood Building in Johannesburg South about the child’s condition that delays happened.

Orange Farm township does not have special schools.

“I think it would be better to return to the old system where mainstream schools had classes for children like mine.

"These schools with special needs are far and exist only in areas where well-off people live,” Vilakazi said, adding that her son was considered “slow in class” compared with other children.

Last year Nelson was studying at Intlonipho Primary School in Orange Farm.

Because of his age, he was required to move to high school level, said the mother, who depends on her three children’s grants.

On Wednesday the department’s admission centre assessed Nelson and referred Vilakazi to Goudveld Senior Secondary School in Langlaagte, Johannesburg.

A document from the department showed this move would cost her R300 to register and an additional R1 000 a year for subsidised transport.

Also in the queue at the Crownwood Building was Madilenyana Muronga, who brought her daughter Karabo Muronga (18) to be assessed after she struggled through high school and had to repeat Grade 10 three times at Orange Farm High School.

Muronga said Karabo was progressed in each grade after failing them a couple of times.

She said she feared Karabo might think of committing suicide after another child – Lerato Mashuge (19) – killed herself by drinking paint stored in a 250ml bottle after finding out she failed Grade 11 last year.

Lerato’s teachers told City Press at the time that she was repeating the grade for the third time.

“Karabo’s embarrassed to go back to her old school because all her peers have moved on. She’s already lost so many years because this system is failing us,” Muronga said.

Other parents were also still seeking spaces for their children in mainstream schools last week.

By Wednesday, 28 435 pupils were unplaced in Gauteng.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said his department had received an additional 4 500 new applications by last Saturday.

“Unplanned financial implications of admitting late applicants are substantial.

“Additional funding will have to be found to finance educator salaries, additional classrooms, learning and teaching support materials and school furniture.

“Procurement processes are also not instant but can take a week to complete,” he said.

A report tabled by the department of basic education at the portfolio committee on basic education in November last year showed that there were:

. 7 492 unplaced pupils in the Eastern Cape;

. 60 971 unplaced pupils in Gauteng;

. 210 284 unplaced pupils in KwaZulu-Natal;

. 1 592 unplaced pupils in Limpopo;

. 8 733 unplaced pupils in Mpumalanga;

. 7 079 unplaced pupils in Northern Cape;

. 8 905 unplaced pupils in North West; and

. 24 308 unplaced pupils in the Western Cape.

All children were placed in schools in the Free State.


Read more on:    panyaza lesufi  |  education

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