2020 school placements: AfriForum assists schools and parents

AfriForum describes the 2020 school placement process as chaotic bureaucratic floundering. The organisation has been flooded with complaints the past two weeks from parents who still haven’t received SMS notifications with offers for the placement of their children in schools for the 2020 school year. Parents are unhappy and stressed because the process has been drawn out and taking unnecessarily long, creating immense uncertainty for parents and learners.

Schools have also been struggling to match their placement lists with those given to them by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), due to the fact that the lists provided by the GDE differ substantially from the schools’ lists. AfriForum has already assisted several schools in this regard.

The online registration system, as well as the placing process have been plagued by problems which were predicted by AfriForum as early as May this year. The organisation approached the GDE about the problems back then. Their warnings however fell on deaf ears and it has now reached a stage where Panyaza Lesufi, MEC for Education in Gauteng, and the GDE are continuously apologising for the problems, instead of admitting that the system is a failure and allowing schools to do their own admissions as they did in the past.

During an emergency press conference on Monday, the GDE announced that the placement process will yet again be extended to 30 November 2019.

Parents who still haven’t received messages with placement information should receive notifications within the next month.

According to the GDE, placements were made on the following premises:
* Learners were first placed in the school closest to their home address.
* If a school still had capacity, children with siblings in the school were placed there.
* Thereafter learners were placed whose parents’ work address is closest to the school.
* Then learners living within a 30 km radius from the school were placed.
* Finally, learners who live outside a 30 km radius from the school were placed.

Say parents applied for placement at Primary School X, it would mean that the children who live closest to the school would have been placed first. If the school then still had capacity, children with siblings in the school would be placed. If Primary School X then still had space, children with parents working closest to the school would be placed there, and so forth.

“It is very unfair that parents and learners are placed under this much stress by the registration and placement process. Lesufi boasts about the system being without problems, when in fact it hasn’t been successful for the past four years.”

“AfriForum will continue to support schools and school governing bodies in their battle to solve placement problems before the start of the 2020 school year,” says Carien Bloem, Manager of Education at AfriForum. Measures will also be explored to avoid similar chaos with placements for the 2021 school year.

The GDE asked parents to use the following channels to report any problems relating to the placement process:

  1. An appeal form should be downloaded from gdeadmissions.gov.za, completed and returned to admissions.Hotline.@gauteng.gov.za.
  2. Parents can also phone the call centre at 0800 000 789 or send an email to gdeinfo@gauteng.gov.za or visit their nearest district office.

“AfriForum encourages parents to continuously stay in contact with the school of their choice for confirmation on whether their children are on the school’s placement list – even if they haven’t received an SMS yet,” says Bloem.

AfriForum wants to know about cases where the GDE fails to assist parents with their problems: send an email to onderwys@afriforum.co.za.

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