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No space for Grade R pupils

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Department of Education meanwhile says it is “making steady progress” in all districts of the Northern Cape to finalise all school placement offers

File picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

THOUSANDS of Grade R pupils in Kimberley will have to be accommodated at early childhood development centres due to insufficient space at public schools.

Parents in the Northern Cape will meanwhile have a last chance to register their children for the 2021 school academic year next week.

Schools are expected to reopen for the new school year on January 27.

Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said yesterday that there were a high number of applications for Grade R, specifically in the Frances Baard District.

“There are a total of 9 788 applications for the entry grades (Grade R, 1 and 8) which constitutes 76.3 percent of the total number of applications (12 830) in the Frances Baard District.”

Van der Merwe said that a total of 4 700 admission applications were received for Grade R in the Frances Baard District, although there was only space for 1 421 Grade R pupils at public schools in the district.

“Unfortunately 3 279 learners will have to make use of early childhood development community-based centres in and around Kimberley.”

He said that the bulk of the admission applications were registered in the Frances Baard District.

“A total of 12 830 applications were made of which 3 042 are for Grade 2-6 and Grade 9-11. A total of 30.6 percent of middle grade applications were already processed and will only be finalised if school spaces for those grades exist or become available. We have clearly indicated from the onset that school hopping won’t be allowed and will only be considered if school spaces exist for the middle grades,” he added.

Van der Merwe said that parents who have not yet received confirmation of a school place for their child would be informed on Friday.

“It remains the responsibility of the parent or legal guardian to either accept or decline the placement offer within seven days. Failure to meet the cut-off date will result in the department automatically placing the pupil”

He added that 70 percent of placement offers had already been issued to parents.

“The Northern Cape Department of Education is making steady progress in all districts to finalise the offer for placements to all parents.”

Van der Merwe explained that the rate of accepting or declining placement offers was very low at 64 percent.

“This could be due to a number of reasons, which include, amongst others, that parents lost their phones or gadgets, changed their cellphone numbers or don’t have internet connectivity.”

He added that walk-in centres would be open in all districts as from Wednesday, January 6 to assist parents in finalising their admission placements.

“Parents who opt to decline the offer for placement will lose their place and will have to accept placement wherever a space becomes available.

“A parent who is dissatisfied with the decision of the district director must submit an electronic appeal form to the Office of the MEC for Education within seven days.”

Van der Merwe said that the form could be accessed on any cellphone or device on the link: http://tiny.cc/appeal2021.

“This will ensure that Covid-19 regulations are adhered to and will prevent parents from queuing at district offices and walk-in centres.

“So far, we are on track for a smooth start to the school academic year. We urge parents to work with us to finalise all placement before Wednesday, January 27.”

Van der Merwe urged parents to finalise their placement offers from home before visiting the walk-in centres, where possible.

“This will assist the department to curb the spread of the coronavirus and remain safe at all times.”