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WCED celebrates reduction in enrolment backlog but is still 'fighting a moving target'

About 1200 unplaced school kids from Mfuleni march last year and shut down all Mfuleni Schools demanding to be placed. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

About 1200 unplaced school kids from Mfuleni march last year and shut down all Mfuleni Schools demanding to be placed. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 17, 2022

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Cape Town - The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said the number of unplaced learners in the province that applied in 2021 has reduced further to 469 Grade 1 learners and 2 620 Grade 8 learners.

That was in comparison to December 2020, when 4 624 Grade 1 learners were unplaced, and 8 765 Grade 8 learners were unplaced.

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However, WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said that every day, additional parents had been contacting them to say that they had not yet applied, which made planning extremely difficult.

“While we celebrate a further reduction in numbers, we are also fighting a moving target given that every day we are receiving more late applications from learners.

“Over 32 000 late applications have been received thus far,” she said.

Hammond urged those parents to be patient as they endeavoured to assist them.

She said Metro North, South and East remained the biggest challenges in the province.

“Should a parent not yet have applied for 2022, they must please contact the district office where they reside,” she said.

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Hammond said the WCED has officials on the ground to assist parents directly and are managing the situation on a case-by-case basis.

She said they were therefore appealing for parents to not come to head office.

“We want to thank parents for their patience during the process and we want to assure them that we are working hard to place learners,” she said.

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Vanessa le Roux, founder of a group called Parents for Equal Education SA (Peesa), has accused the WCED of being dishonest, saying their lies were becoming old.

Le Roux said they would have been foolish to believe that on December 2, they had almost 30 000 unplaced learners, and miraculously three weeks later on December 21 they had placed 25 000 learners.

She claimed that from next week they would start blaming learners apparently coming from the Eastern Cape.

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“They must be honest and transparent with us, because one way or another we will get hold of the real figures,“said Le Roux.

Legal Resources Centre (LRC) spokesperson Thabo Ramphobole said the LRC was aware of the number of unplaced learners in the Western Cape and were monitoring the situation.

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said: “The placement of all learners is very key if we are to talk about the state of readiness in the terrain of Basic Education.”

Makaneta said the problem of unplaced learners was recurring every year, hence the department has been called to review the current application system with a view to make improvements.

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Cape Argus

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