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Dept responds …

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The Department of Education it is working on finalising all pupil placement.

Concerned parents waiting for answers outside the Department of Education district office this morning. Picture: Danie van der Lith

WITH a total of 3 687 placement offers still pending and more than 5 200 appeals that still need to be settled, the Northern Cape Department of Education indicated that it is in process of finalising all pupil placements ahead of the start of the 2021 academic year.

Spokesperson for the department, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said the department has received more than 34 000 applications from parents across the Province.

“To date, the department issued 34 020 placement offers to parents. A total of 30 333 parents accepted the offer for placement, whilst 3 687 offers are still pending. The department has indicated that if a parent or guardian fails to either accept or decline the placement offer within 7 days, we will take the responsibility of placing the child.

“It is important to note that many parents applied to more than one schools and the current pending offers are occupying available school spaces,” said Van der Merwe.

He said there are some administrative issues that are also delaying the placement process.

“We are fully aware that a number of parents submitted appeals to the Office of the MEC, whilst they have pending offers for placement. The department will advise the Office of the MEC not to consider these appeals as these pupils were offered placement at a school they have applied to.

“Another matter that is delaying the placement of learners is incomplete applications on the system. Parents have applied, but did not upload all the required documentation such as their identity documents, proof of residence, clinic card and report card. These applications are incomplete and therefore the pupils cannot be placed. Our District offices and schools are trying their utmost best to get hold of these parents,” he said.

Van der Merwe said the department also received more than 5 000 appeals from parents which the department is also attending to.

“The Office of the MEC received a total of 5 250 appeals from parents who have received an unsuccessful placement message. The appeals will only be considered based on the admission criteria as set out by the department and parents will be informed on the outcome of their appeal before schools reopen.

“The admission policy of a public school is determined by the governing body of the school in terms of Section 5(5) of the South African Schools Act,1996 (No 84 of 1996). The department issued a circular to outline the admission process, including the criteria to all public schools,” he said.

He added that they are in the final stages of the appeal process and that all late applications will only be considered on a first come first serve basis.

“We are in the final stages to conclude all outstanding placements and we thank all parents who have remained patient and provided the necessary cooperation in this regard. We have learned valuable lessons with the new Online Admissions System and we will further improve the system where necessary.

“The department will ensure that all pupils of compulsory school going age will be placed at a public school, prior to the reopening of schools on February 15, 2021.

“The online admission system was open for late admissions between January 11 and 18, 2021. During this period, the department received 11 155 late admission applications for this academic year. These applications will be finalised in due course and will be treated on a first come first serve basis,” Van der Merwe said.

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