Grade 1 and 8 learners are victims of 2019 school placing system

The civil rights organisation AfriForum attended  a media conference held this morning by the MEC for Education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, regarding problems with the placement of Grade 1 and 8 learners in schools in 2019.

A total of 282 823 applications had been received by the Department by means of the online school registration system which had been available from 16 to 28 May 2018. Of these, 149 461 had been applications for Grade 1 and 133 362 for Grade 8.

After the closing of the online application process, 248 866 learners had been placed. Of the remaining 33 957 applications, only 6 879 had been complete. The Department has asked that parents be patient and wait until 5 November 2018, when they will receive final confirmation concerning their children’s placement.

Carien Bloem, coordinator of AfriForum’s education projects, attended the meeting and reported that according to the Department, learners would be placed in schools that still have available capacity. The Department also appeals to parents to accept the eventual placements.

“In addition, the Department warns parents that placement in their school of choice cannot be guaranteed. Lesufi said that the system provides a way in which the back of ‘apartheid schools’ can finally be broken. He added that parents should not be particular about the education their children get or who they play with,” Bloem said.

According to Bloem, these annually recurring placement problems result in parents and learners becoming victims of the system. Learners’ access to quality education is undermined because there are so many dysfunctional schools in the province that the Department does not attend to. Apparently, schools in Kempton Park, Centurion, Fourways and the south of Johannesburg are completely full and numbers have been increased from 40 to 59 learners per class, which will definitely be detrimental to the quality of education the learners will receive.

Bloem says another problem is that learners are sometimes placed in schools using a language of instruction which they do not speak or understand adequately. They are therefore completely denied of their right to mother tongue education and their performance consequently suffers. “Lesufi’s remarks underline the impression that his focus is still on a vendetta against Afrikaans schools, instead of the challenge of accommodating an ever-growing learner population, while protecting and expanding the offer of mother tongue education. This results in unnecessary polarisation and tension in the education community of Gauteng.”

Practical advice offered by the Department includes that parents who have still had no news about their children’s placement have to contact the Department by sending an email to They will then be sent a list of schools where learners can still be placed.

Parents can also appeal to their local district office against their children’s placement. AfriForum however finds that this process has not produced much success thus far.

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