The delay in the Northern Cape Department of Education placing learners in the Frances Baard District is taking its toll on some of the pupils, who are forced to sit at home while their peers go to school.
THE DELAY in the Northern Cape Department of Education placing learners is taking its toll on some of the pupils, who are forced to sit at home while their peers go to school.
According to the department, by January 22 there were still 26 learners who remained unplaced in the Frances Baard District after having made use of the Online Admission System to apply for a school place.
One of the affected learners is a Galeshewe boy who, according to his parents, has become “suicidal” after starting to feel frustrated and rejected by not being able to go to school.
The learner is still awaiting placement in Grade 8 at a school that offers Setswana home language, preferably in Galeshewe.
The parents said they applied for a school place on the department’s online system last year and are surprised that their son has still not been placed at this late date.
They said they followed all the procedures, including selecting the three nearest schools to them, but have not yet heard anything from the department.
Out of desperation, they started queuing at the department’s district office on January 14, but have been told to “go home and wait to be contacted”.
The mother has become even more concerned because her son has since said that he feels “worthless” and “not good enough” to have been placed with his peers who applied for a school place at the same time last year.
“My son is going through a difficult time because he sees his peers passing his home on their way to and from school on a daily basis, while he has to sit at home and watch TV. He even asked whether he was being punished,” said the worried mother.
“He also expressed fear that by the time he does get placed at a school, the other learners will be way ahead of him with their studies.”
She said desperation drove them to frequent the district office, but it has not helped them.
“We ran out of airtime money due to being put on hold whenever we called the department and were told to hold the line.
“We started going to the department’s offices and have now also run out of taxi fare.
“My son is going through hell. We spent days queuing in the sun, only to be sent home to come and wait.
“We are exhausted and feel failed by the online system. Why did the department not place all the learners before dealing with the appeals and the late applications?
“We stay not far from at least three schools and we still can’t get a place. I am concerned that all the schools might be full. At this stage, we will settle for any school in Galeshewe.”
Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said this week that the admission of learners is continuing throughout the Province, with the bulk of late placements taking place in the Frances Baard District.
He said the placement process was delayed by the number of late applications, which increased from 1,302 to 2,067.
“This represents 1,231 applications for Grade R, 335 applications for Grade 1 and 501 applications for Grade 8. The number of late applications has set us back in terms of our time frame to place all outstanding learners by last week Friday,” said Van der Merwe.
“The department once more reminds parents that it is our constitutional obligation to ensure that all learners of school-going age are placed at a school. Thus, with the limited available school spaces, we cannot guarantee preferred placement at any of our schools.”
By the time of publication, the parents had still not received any feedback from the department and the department had not yet issued an update on whether the affected 26 learners in the Frances Baard District were placed.