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No space for 2 000 pupils

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Northern Cape MEC says urgent intervention is needed to increase school admission capacity

City parents protest outside the Department of Education’s district office in Kimberley. They have been waiting since September last year for their children to be placed. Pictures: Danie van der Lith

THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Education, Zolile Monakali, says that urgent inventions, such as the procurement of mobile classes and additional facilities, are required to resolve the challenge of admission capacity at schools in the Province.

Monakali, during an address to angry city parents who took their children to the Office of the MEC on Thursday because they are still waiting for school placements, said that the department still needed to place thousands of pupils.

He said the problem lies with the number of pupils that schools can accommodate.

“I received a report from the team who works on the placements and it stated that we still have about 2 000 learners, especially Grade 8s, that have not yet been placed at schools. The schools are already filled to the brim, however, we still have learners that need to be placed,” said Monakali.

“I was at first of the view that we are faced with this challenge because of the preference of school by parents. I have now come to the realisation that it is not only preference but that we also have a capacity challenge at our schools.

“We have agreed with Premier Zamani Saul that we need to come up with an alternative to the problem. The primary solution thus far is that we need to build two more schools in Kimberley.

“However, we will not be able to build a school in the next two weeks. So, we have agreed with management that we must locate mobile classrooms and place units at the various schools. That process we will start immediately.

“The premier has also indicated that we must speak to the Treasury Department to allocate funds for the procurement of the mobile units should there be a shortage of units.

“Another option is that we are aware that the hostel at Elizabeth Conradie is not occupied. We are going to conduct an analysis on the state of that hostel in order to convert it into classes to accommodate learners that are not yet placed.

“These two options will not occur overnight but are some possible measures that will be put in place in order for learners to be placed.”

Education MEC Zolile Monakali. Picture: Supplied

Monakali said the department has in the meantime managed to procure space at some local schools.

“We only had about two schools that had limited space available. We have placed learners in those schools. We have also engaged with the principals of former Model C schools and we managed to place learners in those schools too. However, we still have many learners that still need to be placed.”

He added that some parents would be issued with feedback regarding the placement of their children this week.

“There will still be letters of placement issued to parents. The team is busy with the list of learners who still need to be placed and is giving feedback to parents the moment they manage they get space at schools. We are aware that not all parents will receive letters of admission and we urge those parents to be patient as we work on the alternatives.”

Monakali said the department has to ensure it has all resources in place when it procures the mobile classrooms. “We have to get educators, textbooks and other resources in order for learning to commence.

“Our long-term objective is that we must have an additional school or two in Kimberley by next year in order not to be faced with the same problem each year.

“For those parents who will not be receiving letters, we are requesting patience in order for us to look into the mobile classes and the converting of the hostel. There will be continuous communication from the department on the process.

“We are thankful for parents who have been patient with the department,” Monakali concluded.