Parents prefer Model C schools which clogs up system, says Lesufi, as 700 Gauteng pupils unplaced

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Aadam Areff on his first day of Grade 1 at Blairgowrie Primary School in Gauteng.
Aadam Areff on his first day of Grade 1 at Blairgowrie Primary School in Gauteng.
Ahmed Areff
  • Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has apologised as 700 pupils who are still unplaced at the start of the 2022 academic year.
  • Lesufi said all pupils would be placed by the end of January.
  • The online application system opened for late registrations on Wednesday.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has apologised as another academic year started with hundreds of unplaced pupils.

Lesufi said 700 of the Grade 1 and 8 pupils who applied through the department's online application system were still unplaced.

The online system had been in place since 2016 and every year, despite applying on time, pupils struggled to get placement.

He said: 

On behalf of the department, I don't want only to apologise, but I want to reassure parents that last year during this particular period we had almost 35 000 learners that were unplaced. Fortunately, this year, we are only left with about 700 learners that still need to be placed.

He said last year's unplaced pupils only managed to get into classrooms by the end of March.

"I want to assure parents that the 700 that we need to place... we are putting [in] a firm commitment that we will place them before the end of January."

Lesufi said the situation was not because of a "lack of planning or lack of schools".

He instead blamed the issues on migration to the province and parents having preferred schools.

"We have a phenomenon called 'choice' and we also have something that is beyond our control where hundreds and hundreds of learners prefer to come to Gauteng to learn."

Lesufi said: 

The reality is there are certain schools that parents prefer and therefore clog the system with those particular schools.

He said while the government was building new schools in the townships, parents didn’t want to send their children to them, opting instead for former Model C schools.

"Reality is there is no teacher who is trained differently. All our teachers are trained from the same pot. There is no university that trains teachers for private schools or former Model C schools.

"It's a huge struggle to change the mentality of our people to say 'township education is quality education'. It's a huge task. We are committed as Gauteng to ensure that all our schools provide quality education."

On Wednesday, the online system opened for late registration and proved problematic, with some parents complaining that they were unable to log on to the system.

A parent who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity said: "I have been up since midnight and the system is not open yet. It just feels like the department doesn't want us to apply. Maybe they should just scrap the whole thing and allow us to apply directly to schools."

But for those who managed to navigate the arduous online application system, like Ahmed Areff, the first day of school was special.

On Wednesday, Areff's son, Aadam, started Grade 1 at Blairgowrie Primary School.

"I am also surprised that we managed to get him through that dreadful online application process. We did it the day applications opened, so the site crashed a lot, and lots of weird options came up. We didn't get any message to say he was accepted – we actively had to go look for that.

Aadam Areff is one of the thousands of children wh
Aadam Areff on his first day of Grade 1 at Blairgowrie Primary School in Gauteng.
Supplied Ahmed Areff
Aadam Areff is one of the thousands of children wh
Aadam Areff on his first day of Grade 1 at Blairgowrie Primary School in Gauteng.
Supplied Ahmed Areff

"We were successful, and the process was that stressful. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like for those parents and kids that are running around this morning without a school because of issues with that terrible system."

He said he was proud of Aadam for starting his schooling career.

"My wife and I are awfully proud of Aadam. He was nervous, but excited – and he didn't make a run for it. It was all smiles under his mask. All the tears came instead from his mother.

"It's crazy when you think about the fact that this Minecraft-loving, Spidey web-shooter-making kid is now on his own path and his own adventure. He's a good kid, so I know that he will have fun and that he will learn to appreciate that he has a good school to go to. Education is everything, and kids are there to expand their minds and find themselves – not to worry about dying after falling into a pit toilet."

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