Struggle for places in school

Disgruntled parents checking the list as they look for school places for their children in Gugulethu.

Well over a week after schools opened, the parents of at least over 40 Grade 8 pupils in Gugulethu are still fighting for a place for their children in high school.

Disgruntled parents met in Khwezi Hall on Thursday to seek a way forward.

Some said the online application process does not work in disadvantaged areas such as theirs and appealed to the Department of Education to find another way.

However, they have vowed to fight for the admission of their children no matter what.

Parent Cleo Magqashela lashed out at all the Gugulethu high schools and their “selfish” principals.

She said parents should continue protesting until all the children have been admitted to a school.

“We are told the schools are all full. In some schools we were told we did not apply. But I can safely say I applied for my child but now she has to sit at home because of selfish principals. I even went on to buy full uniform and stationery for her because I was told that she was admitted at the Gugulethu Comprehensive. They gave me a stationery list and I honoured that but now, I am told she has no place.”

Some of the pupils in uniform joined their protesting parents outside the hall.

Parent Sipho Mekana criticised the online admission process, saying it is not for poor and unemployed people. He said it was unfair to expect people of the township to have access to digital platforms. “The process is ridiculous and it is unfair to the poor. You cannot expect these people to own top of the range phones let alone computers or laptops. Even those who have nice phones have no data. How then would they be able to apply?” s

Mr Mekana said what is strange is that of his two children, one has been admitted while the other has been rejected. He said according to the information he got, the other is registered in Langa. “Look, all these kids are excited to go to high school. It is their lifetime opportunity and it is now fading. How is it that one of my children appears in Langa while I am in Gugulethu? One is now at school while the other had to sit at home. This is all nonsense,” he angrily said.

Another parent, Nosipho Galeni said the sad part is that when they visited schools, principals did not talk to them and instead they had to speak to the security guards.

“It is heartbreaking to see that other children are going to school and some would be at home for the whole year. Imagine the pain to the kid. What are they going to do all this time? If things are going this way it means we are creating monsters. We are grooming amapharaphara and tsotsis (thugs).”

She commended councillor Luvuyo Zondani for his courage to assist them even though children were not placed.

Responding to questions, Bronagh Hammond, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) director of communication, said the department is assisting parents every day with placement. “We ask that parents who still require assistance to please contact the district office, Metro Central. If they have done so already, then their names are on our database for placement,”she said.

Ms Hammond added that in terms of the online application there should be no excuse to not have registered during the enrolment period last year. She said parents could apply to the schools directly if they did not have access to the online system. Contrary to what their parents said about paper applications not allowed at schools, she said paper based applications were accepted.

“Parents also need to take responsibility for applying on time. Unemployment has nothing to do with applying for your child. Thousands of parents apply each year with no access to technology and or are unemployed. Each year we appeal to parents to heed our call to please apply during the enrolment period. This happened in February/March 2020 before lockdown, so that cannot be used as an excuse,” she said.

She said for the 2022 school year, applications open tomorrow, Friday February 26.

She appealed once again for parents to apply during this period so they can better plan and place their child timeously.

Parents of pupils who were to start high school outside Khwezi Hall, in Gugulethu.
Gugulethu parents of Grade 8 pupils draw up their own list to ascertain the number of children who still need a place at school.