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High demand for places at government schools and vandalism mark start of 2023 academic year

Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane says mobile classrooms are one of the tools being used to cope with the demand for pupil places at government schools for the 2023 academic year.
Gauteng education MEC Matome Chiloane says mobile classrooms are one of the tools being used to cope with the demand for pupil places at government schools for the 2023 academic year.
Image: Supplied/GDE

Gauteng MEC for education Matome Chiloane has assured parents whose children haven’t been placed in schools that they will be taught this year.

He addressed the media on Tuesday about the 2023 online admissions and pupil placements for grades one and eight and the province’s readiness for the new academic year, which begins on Wednesday.

“We are continuing to place our learners. When we started we had 292,145 complete applications. These are the parents who were able to provide all the necessary documentation and also met the deadlines,” he said.

Chiloane said they also had incomplete applications from parents who had failed to provide the necessary documents.

There are 1,394 pupils who are yet to be placed.

These include requests for placement in high-demand areas.

In the Ekurhuleni North District, 236 grade 1 applicants are yet to be placed at Olifantsfontein primary school. The school will receive three additional mobile units to increase capacity.

Chiloane said more mobile units would be placed on the grounds of a local church to accommodate the remaining unplaced grade 1 applicants.

In the Kempton Park area, 501 grade 8 pupils had not been placed and schools would confirm the number of spaces still available on the first day of school.

The schools would also be requested to use specialist rooms to accommodate pupils.

In the Tshwane West district about 223 grade 8 applicants around Akasia and Theresa Park were yet to be placed.

The department was in the process of building a satellite high school to accommodate the remaining unplaced applicants in the district.

In the Johannesburg West district, 434 grade 8 applicants had not been placed in Roodepoort but the department was negotiating to occupy facilities used by Robinhood College in Maraisburg.

Chiloane said 10 unused classrooms would be cleaned and minor renovations made before the end of January.

He said the department was aware schools in the province were exceeding their maximum capacity but it would be worse if some children were at home rather than at school.

“This is a double-edged sword,” he said. “Either schools are overcrowded or pupils are left unplaced, at home.

“We have to make a choice and we are making a choice that every child must be at school.”

The department allocated funds to 108 high-pressure schools for 408 self-built classrooms in January 2022 to address the admissions pressure and overcrowding. At the end of last year, funds were transferred to 297 schools to build an additional 878 classrooms. Four new schools are also scheduled to open in 2023 — three secondary schools and one primary school.

Vandalism

About 120 schools in the province were affected by vandalism, burglaries and arson attacks in 2022. The department had prioritised emergency repairs and renovations.

Chiloane said 24 schools were affected by vandalism during the December holiday period which included theft of school property.

Repairs to vandalised schools had been ongoing since October last year and none of them had been closed.

“We are appealing to communities to work with us to stop this behaviour by some criminal elements. We can’t continue to allow a situation where our schools are burgled,” he said.

 TimesLIVE


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