By Keletso Mkhwanazi , Philiswa Mbanjwa & Sivuyile Majikijela

Angry parents stormed the Tshwane District’s Wonderboom offices after being let down by the Gauteng Department of Education’s online application, which they say is riddled with challenges.

Most of the parents claimed  that their children were being placed in schools that they did not applied in.Just two days before the schools could re-open, over 200 parents were still queuing at the department’s underground parking whiles others were forcing their way inside the department.The police had to be called in to try to calm the enraged parents whiles staff tried to manage the re-application process and correct placements of their children to preferred schools.

Khanyisile Mashiane of Block G Soshanguve told TheTelegram that she applied for her grade 1 son back in July 2022 who was then in grade R. However, according to her the placement sms was delayed, “ I received the SMS in the evening on December 9 saying that my child was placed in a school to which I did not apply. I applied at Phumzile Primary school in Block G and my son was placed at Maabana Primary school in Block X both in Soshanguve which are about 20 kilometres apart”, she said. Then after she went to the school she applied for and was told that applications were closed.“They said I must come back during the first week of the reopening of schools and that they will help me. I started at the school then they referred me to the department of education,” she said, adding that it has been chaotic.

 As if that was not enough, when she got to the department’s offices there were over 500 parents who were queuing to get their children placed. “We were told to re-apply and wait for sms one more time, schools are starting in two days, and we don’t know when we will be responded to or if our children will be placed. I am stressed because my child is still young he can’t attend a school that is far from where we live”..

Another frustrated parent Mpho Motloung from Eastland in Pretoria said that he also applied on time and was placed in a school he did not apply for.

“In the application, I did specify that my other two children are attending school at Rietondale Secondary which is my preferred school and he was placed at HF Oodendaal Secondary School,” he said, adding that he also followed all the necessary procedures required for the correct placement. He explained that the said school is not far from where he stays however, the wrong placement has caused his son emotional and psychological trauma.

“My son is not doing well emotionally; he even said that if he is not placed at his elder brother’s school, he will rather do online schooling,” said Motloung.

Motloung added that the online application system is the best however; the government should just monitor the people behind the systems. “They knew that they had a problem with wrong placements before the year ended last, then they should have worked overtime and probably not taking a break during the festive season or rather opened a week before to sort out the challenges, not two days before schools open,” he said,

Gauteng Education MEC Matome Chiloane said the backlog of new learner placement is always a hassle and a strain at this time of year as new students enter the country from other provinces. However, the MEC added that  the department is working as fast as they can to ensure that grades 1-8 are placed in schools. According to the department, the system was created to develop a centralized database for planning and monitoring admissions processes in the province. And to also cut long queues at schools when admitting learners. But instead it has turned out to be a nightmare for some parents and learners. The DA in Gauteng  has urged the MEC to prioritise resolving placement issues for the learners who applied on time as thousands of parents and guardians who applied on time are still waiting for SMSs to confirm the placement of their children.

“No learner should be denied access to education because the department failed to allocate a school for them. Furthermore, the long wait and uncertainty frustrate parents who still need to buy stationery and uniforms and make transport arrangements for their children.”  DA’s Khume Ramulifho said in a  statement.

Meanwhile, Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga has promised that the placement issue will be resolved in 10 days.

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