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School panic starts

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On Monday night parents at one primary school started queueing from early evening hoping to get admission for their children when the process opened at 8am.

THE QUEUE: Parents are seen here queueing at Diamantveld Primary School early yesterday morning.

THE ANNUAL desperate panic to get children into public schools in Kimberley has started for the 2020 academic year and on Monday night parents at one primary school started queueing from early evening hoping to get admission for their children when the process opened at 8am yesterday morning.

Registration for the admission of pupils for the 2019 academic year opened this month and will take place on a date determined by the school.

Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson, Lehuma Ntuane, said yesterday that each public school would publicise the date that the school will be open for registrations.

Advertisements have already been placed by several schools in the media announcing the date for admission applications.

On Monday night, several parents guaranteed themselves a top spot in the queue outside Diamantveld Primary School by arriving early and spending the night on the pavement outside the school.

Applications for admission opened at 8am yesterday morning.

One parent said he joined the queue at 4am and was 48th on the list. “When I arrived, there were already a number of parents waiting outside. Many of them had spent the night there.”

According to the parent, there were only 28 places available at the school for the English-speaking Grade R class.

“I have two children in high school at Northern Cape High and now I am trying to get my little one, the ‘laatlammetjie’, into an English-speaking Grade R class.”

He added that he had already applied at Newton on Monday. “There were no queues outside Newton and the process was very quick.”

Next on his list is Progress Primary. “I think I will only apply at those three schools. I hope I get a place somewhere.”

The Department of Education failed to respond to media enquiries yesterday but last year the spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, indicated that application for admission to a public school would be considered in the following order: if the pupil has a sibling already attending that school (a sibling means a pupil who has at least one parent who is also the parent of the pupil already attending that school and he or she resides in the same household as that child already attending the school); if the parent is an employee at that school; if their place of residence is within the same suburb as the school; if their place of residence is in the adjacent suburbs’ of the school; and finally if places remain after all the above-mentioned applicants have been offered places, other applicants will be considered in the order in which their applications were received by the school.

Van der Merwe at the time also advised parents to insist on, and be provided with, a number indicating the sequence of their application.

“No school governing body or a school principal may authorise or administer any test, including an interview, related to admission of any pupil,” he also pointed out.

“Schools may not use the academic performance, sport or cultural achievements, unpaid school fees, disciplinary record or process of interviewing of pupils to determine admission to a school.”

Van der Merwe stated that the school principal will inform parents or guardians in writing by August whether the pupil has been admitted to the school or not.

“Where the pupil has been accepted, parents/guardians must inform the school principal in writing within seven days after receipt of the notification that they will accept/decline the grade place at the school.”

The following documents are required for admissions: a certified copy of pupil’s official birth certificate/identity document; recent school report card; clinic/immunisation card of the pupil; certified copy of parent’s ID; parent’s legal relationship with pupil; proof of child’s residence; proof of sibling relationship and study permit/residence permit (for non-South African citizens).

Van der Merwe added that it was important to note that a dispute or appeal was not a guarantee of placement at schools where applications were lodged.

“Principals must inform parents and pupils of their right to appeal against the decision of the school. The parent must lodge an appeal within seven days from receiving notification from the school directly with the office of the MEC.”

The appeal letter (Form NCK-A5) must be accompanied by the following documents: a letter of decline from the school; and the sequence number, date and time that the application was submitted to the school.

“The district director will provide alternative placement options for parents if they do not appeal, if the pupils cannot be placed at the preferred school.”

Van der Merwe added that once a parent has been referred to a school that has space and provides the required curriculum, the case will be deemed closed.

“Late applications for admission will be accommodated where school places exist, but not necessarily at the pupils’ school of choice,” he said.

“Pupils whose parents have been transferred into the Province and/or around the Province must apply directly to a school. However, no special treatment will be given to transferred pupils.

“Parents can obtain pupil admission forms and other related documentation at the school where they intend to enrol their child.”

Every year hundreds of Grade 1 and Grade 8 pupils in the Northern Cape miss out on the first few weeks of schooling while they wait for placement at schools.

There are also insufficient places available for the number of Grade R pupils and parents are told to contact community-based centres.

At the beginning of this year, parents whose children did not get into their preferred schools were given the option of four schools, including Floors One and Floors Two high schools, Homevale Secondary School and William Pescod Secondary School.

Many parents, however, were not happy and claimed that the department was “discriminating” against their children by only giving them options of “academically substandard” schools, instead of allowing them to attend the schools of their preference.

At the time, the department responded by saying that it could not guarantee that children would be placed at the schools of their preference.

“We must indicate that since the schools reopened, we have received more than a hundred new late applications, which is a clear indication that parents are not fulfilling their primary responsibility.

“We have indicated from the onset that we won’t be able to guarantee parents a school of preference. Our district offices have contacted parents to provide alternative placement to pupils. We further encourage parents to work with us to speedily resolve the placement of pupils. We cannot turn a blind eye to these applicants, as education is a constitutional right,” the spokesperson stated.