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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


Restriction of schools ‘an inconvenience’ says parent as Gauteng education flooded with applications

The department says the placement criteria dictated the department prioritised people who reside closer to schools.


With more than 350,207 applications made by Monday, the Gauteng department of education (GDE) has announced the Grade 1 and Grade 8 online admissions were off to a great start.

But there may be a problem for some parents – with the system choosing schools against their wishes.

A parent, Lungile Ngwenya, from Soweto who used the online admission application for her daughter expected to start Grade 8 next year, said she was pleased with the system, but said the only disadvantage of it was the restriction of schools it came with.

“The only problem is they are choosing areas for you in terms of which schools to apply to based on my residential address,” she said.

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“My daughter went to an English-medium primary school but with my address, it is now offering schools in Soweto and my daughter has never done vernacular languages,” she said.

“So it is impossible for her to now have to start doing vernacular languages in Grade 8 when she has never done it before.”

Ngwenya said this caused an inconvenience.

“Where she attends now, it is less than 30km and it is 20 minutes away and the schools the system is offering me are actually further than the 30km.

“The system had an option of previous schools so, for me, if they are inquiring about a previous school, it should make them aware of the school the pupil went to and the area it is in. It should route us to schools around those areas.”

GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona said the placement criteria dictated the department prioritised people who reside closer to schools.

“Such are accommodated on previous option, which is second from home address. The system is operating smoothly, actually we are cruising,” he said.

The 2023 online admissions application period for Grade 1 and 8 will close on 19 August at midnight.

Mabona said it would be difficult to indicate how many applications were expected, but the numbers would be shared after closure.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the department was pleased at the progress the system had made in processing a large amount of applications.

“The improvement introduced to the system played a significant role in smooth running of the system.”

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Rinah Tone, a parent whose child will start Grade 1 next year, said while she was familiar with the system in the previous years, which had difficulties, this one was efficient, easier and straight forward.

“It was an easy process for me and I did not face any complications. I think people only struggled with the uploading of documents but, beside that, it is easy,” she said.

“It was my first time but since I am working for a school and in the previous years when I used to assist parents, it was a train smash because the system would stuck or be very slow, but now it was not hectic.”

Lesufi said applicants who do not have internet access or the resources required to apply can visit their nearest district office or the decentralised walk-in centres, to be assisted.

Tone added the system could only be a disadvantage for people who did not have smartphones, and the elderly.

She said some parents may not have the knowledge of the system which posed problems.

“For them to go to schools and ask for assistance could be an issue as it is time-consuming, depending on how many people who will be offering the help at schools,” she said.

“I think for the young it will not be a problem but for elderly people, it might be one.”

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