As the current school year draws to a close, damning statistics reveal almost 10 500 children in the Western Cape are likely to be without a school for the 2015. With the enrollment period having concluded in 2015, many schools have been left packed to capacity and unable to accept any more pupils. The issue has become a recurrent problem in recent years, and several organizations have leveled criticism at the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) for a suggested lack of assistance in accommodating the students.
Amongst them is NGO Save Our Schools, who every year is inundated with complaints from parents whose children were unable to get entry into a school. According to organization coordinator, Vanessa Le Roux, they had noted up to 1046 children in the Mitchells Plain area alone, who were unable to receive accommodation for the year 2013. Although cases ranged from between Grade R and 12, most were relating to Grade 1 and 8 pupils; seen as the entry years for primary and high school respectively.
“The WCED didn’t listen to the pleas of the parents, nor to our pleas. So for that year, in the Mitchell’s Plain area alone, those children didn’t go to school,” she explained.
The registration period for 2015 officially opened in July this year, with the final drive concluding in late September. Le Roux said that despite the process having concluded over two months ago, the WCED had only come back to parents last week to confirm whether their children had been received acceptance or not. With the majority of schools now already exceeding their capacity for the coming year, she expressed concern as to what would happen to the several thousand unregistered children.
“Schools are already full, and parents can’t find alternative schools for these children. So they are basically stranded,” she said.
And despite multiple emails sent to Western Cape education MEC, Debbie Schäfer to try and set up a meeting and find a possible resolve, she acknowledged their attempts had come to no avail.
“They said that they did receive the email, but they are considering convening a meeting. So we are still waiting on them for the reply,” she said.
As a possible emergency alternative for those students who missed out on registration, Le Roux suggested the possible establishing of mobile classrooms at certain schools, in order to increase their capacity.
“We can’t accept the fact that children are out of school for a full year. These are poor children, and I don’t think these people are taking their education seriously. In our communities, the only way to get out of your poverty and situation is through education,” she stated.
Matters are further complicated by the WCED’s attempts to shut down 17 ‘underperforming’ schools in and around the City. A move initiated under former education MEC, Donald Grant, it would see the students from these schools moved to nearby institutions, deemed to be better equipped to provide them with quality education. However, the schools have appeal against the move, with the Supreme Court of Appeal set to deliver judgment on the matter within the next two weeks. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)