Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi revealed on Thursday morning that of the 58 000 pupils who had not been placed at schools, only 7092 remained unplaced and more than 12 000 new applicants were yet to secure spots.
But progress had been made. On January 9, 58 000 pupils had not been placed at schools ahead of the start of the academic year.
However, by Tuesday afternoon the figures had been reduced to 40 000.
Speaking at a media briefing held in Johannesburg, Lesufi told reporters that as of January 17, the total number of unplaced pupils was 19 913 if one combined online applications and walk-in applications.
According to Lesufi, the number of unplaced pupils whose parents applied online had been vastly reduced to 7092, of which 3930 were in Grade 1 and 3162 were in Grade 8.
Meanwhile, 12 821 new applicants through walk-ins at the admission centres were received by the department – 7820 of these for Grade 1 and 5001 for Grade 8. So far, 312 088 applicants were processed online and 304 996 pupils were placed in schools.
Lesufi indicated that his department had no choice but to persuade some schools to accommodate pupils and that the process was not at all easy.
“We demonstrated that we can place 51 000 learners in school within less than three weeks and it was not easy at all. We are working towards placing the remaining learners as soon as possible.”
Some of the schools that helped accommodate extra pupils include Pretoria’s Hoërskool Overkruin and Hoërskool Montana, which will allow pupils to study in English.
The MEC also saw the necessity to congratulate all students who acquired bursaries to study this year.
“We would love to congratulate all those who managed to secure bursaries and we hope that they excel in their chosen careers.”
Lesufi promised to have his team assist all eight schools that under-performed last year in Gauteng.
Asked if there would be any catch-up programmes for pupils who were admitted late, Lesufi said:
“It is going to be difficult especially considering the fact that overcrowding may affect the learning procedure but yes there will be programmes implemented to eliminate the backlog.”
The MEC stated that the department would be prioritising the placement of pupils who applied online and where there was adequate space, walk-in admissions would be accommodated as well.
However, the MEC warned that it would be a relatively lengthy process for parents who just walked in.
“I would like to apologise to parents whose children are still not placed and commit to accelerate the placement to at least eliminate the backlog of online applications.”
The department also announced that it would be building eight new permanent schools and 12 emergency schools to relieve the pressure.