When schools reopened a month ago in South Africa, the school placement crisis which has become a yearly occurrence in the country was expected.
However, many had anticipated that the school placement problem would be over after a few days and not drag on for over a month. Provincial education departments are still battling to find spaces for hundreds of students across the country who have been rendered schoolless by the school placement crisis.
School placement crisis
The provincial education departments across the country have highlighted that there have been a lot of contributing factors to the current situation, including lack of space to build more schools, learners migrating to other areas, late applications and parents having preferences of schools they would like their children to attend.
On 15th February, a day before students went back to school, the department of basic education’s director-general, Mathanzima Mweli shared a report that showed that about 16,117 grade eight students and 8982 grade one students were yet to find a vacancy in their respective grades.
In a report released by the Mail & Guardian which sought to get the whole picture of the situation by sending questions to all provincial education departments regarding learners placement, they found that some provinces such as Limpopo, the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and the Free State had already managed to place all their students in schools.
However, some provinces such as Gauteng were still struggling with school placement, recording about 917 grade one students and 1,484 grade eight students who were yet to have a place in school. Steve Mabona, the spokesperson for the province’s education department clarified that these statistics were not painting accurate data since they had not been updated.
North West education department, through its spokesperson, Elias Malindi, indicated that they had been able to place 14,244 grade one students at school. However, the department did not indicate whether they had managed to get all the students to schools.
The same situation was also observed in the KwaZulu-Natal education department and Western Cape which still had thousands of students unadmitted to schools.