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No School: ‘Mama, I am sorry’

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A grade 8 pupil has threatened to commit suicide as she has still not been placed in a school.

File Picture by Matthews Baloyi

TWO HUNDRED and fifty Grade 1 and Grade 8 pupils in the Northern Cape have still not been placed in schools for the 2019 school year and parents, as well as pupils, are now becoming increasingly desperate.

This was highlighted yesterday after a 13-year-old Kimberley girl, still waiting to be placed for Grade 8, sent a message to her mother indicating that she would rather commit suicide than further cause her parents stress over admissions.

The message, sent by the 13-year-old pupil to her mother on Sunday evening, reads as follows: “Mama, I am sorry for being a burden in your life. Ever since I have been stressing about school I have noticed that you have not been sleeping, so I’m thinking of taking my life so that your health can improve. I hope that my decision will make everything better in you and daddy’s life.”

The mother was one of dozens of livid parents of pupils yet to start their school year who gathered at the Northern Cape Department of Education district office in Kimberley, where they demanded answers from the department on where their children should go.

The department, however, indicated to parents after hours of waiting around, that feedback could only be given by tomorrow.

“I can’t afford to have my daughter miss out on another day of school, as she is already falling behind those who started their school year last week. I was extremely upset about the message she sent and that goes to show how serious the situation (with placements) is.

“All we ask is that the department be honest with us and not give us the runaround. We are here only because we want the best for our children,” the mother said.

The department, however, blamed parents for the situation.

“Some of the challenges we are experiencing with placements include parents rejecting available placement, the department being unable to contact parents and the fact that they have not registered their children at the school of placement.

“Overall, parents did not adhere to the stipulated criteria in terms of the time-frames for admissions. We are doing everything in our power to meet the demands of the parents, however we cannot over-burden certain schools with more pupils because they are parents’ schools of preference,” spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane, said yesterday.

He added that 89 Grade 1 and 161 Grade 8 pupils still needed to be placed but gave the assurance that they would all be placed by tomorrow.

“All pupils will be placed by Wednesday. The department is busy engaging the principals of schools to fast-track this process. However, we can not guarantee placement of pupils at the school of preference, only at schools where there are space available,” Ntuane said, adding that a team of officials had been set-up to fast-track the process to placing pupils.