A dispute over Gauteng education’s online admissions for grades 1 and 8 for the next academic year has been resolved – for now. This paves the way for applicants when the system goes up tomorrow at 8am. Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona declined to comment on specific questions, but he referred City Press to a media statement about a briefing set to be held in Johannesburg today.
In part, the statement said education MEC Panyaza Lesufi would announce the readiness of the online application platform for the affected grades.
“Among others, Lesufi will update on changes effected by the technical team in the system to accommodate concerns raised by some stakeholders regarding the implementation of the newly amended admissions regulations and feeder zones on the system accordingly,” the statement said.
This, following a dispute between the department, Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwyser Unie (SAOU), AfriForum, Solidarity Movement’s Schools Support Centre (SSC) and the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas) over a number of issues including allowing parents to apply to schools of their choice within a 30km radius of their home address.
Disagreements led to the department postponing opening the system for applications, which was initially planned to come into effect last Monday, after it was threatened with legal action.
The SAOU had planned to join AfriForum, the SSC and Fedsas in a court action against the department. SAOU chief executive Chris Klopper said they no longer foresaw the possibility of approaching the court on an urgent basis for relief: “The feedback is much more positive than last week and we will give the process a chance to commence on Monday.”
AfriForum spokesperson Carien Bloem said together with the SSC and Fedsas, they had sent an attorney letter to the department regarding the online process and certain problems related to it.
“The department answered us on May 10, stating that it would postpone the opening of the system to May 20 and would also look into our concerns regarding the system. It also informed us that it did make some changes to the system, for instance, parents can now choose which school they want to apply to in a 30km radius to their home address, where in the past the system determined the closest school to your home address and you had no other choice. Language will also now be taken into consideration.”
Bloem said AfriForum and other parties appreciated the department’s willingness to cooperate in this situation and were grateful for the changes made to accommodate parents.
Fedsas chief executive Paul Colditz said they were satisfied that the system now provided parents with necessary options as determined by the Constitution. He also said the initial problems included that not all schools in an applicant’s feeder zone were listed properly. The department, Colditz said, had also made an appeals process available to applicants who wished to contest unsuccessful applications.