Johannesburg - Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi is sending 8 500 employees to public schools across the province to help parents struggling to register their children online. "Those people who want to do paper registration, as of tomorrow, we are going to send them to all those schools to enter their details and register them,” he told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday. The helpers would include technicians and there would be laptops and 3G cards. This would be done on Thursday, Friday, and Monday to help those frustrated parents struggling with the department's online registration. Lesufi announced on Tuesday that there would no longer be walk-in registrations for Grade 1 and 8 pupils. On Wednesday, he said the department was expecting about 500 000 applications for both grades. However, there were just over 200 000 spaces available for Grade 1 and roughly 120 000 for Grade 8. Online registration was intended to help the department get pupil numbers and the number of desks and chairs and classrooms needed. Lesufi said the project started in 2015 with the aim of relieving pressure on parents. The transition to a paperless registration system had not been smooth. Many parents had complained and queued at the department's offices in central Johannesburg. Some parents and school governing body officials rejected the system. Lesufi said 188 421 parents had successfully registered thus far. He refuted claims that the system crashed on Tuesday morning, saying the department had merely delayed activating it. Thirteen hackers had tried, but failed, to get into the system. The department's service providers were trying to track them down. The department’s call centre would operate between 07:30 and 18:00 during the week and 07:30 to 14:00 during weekends. It received roughly 215 calls an hour. Lesufi said he was aware of the pain of parents struggling with the change. "I'm touched by the cries, the frustrations and the stress of other parents and I will do everything within my power to minimise their pain. Their pain has hit home, it is now part of my heart." Those who did not find spaces in the schools they had initially applied for would be placed in schools which still had space, he said.