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Schools not yet ready to reopen, says educations activists

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga held a media briefing on the state of readiness for the opening of schools for the 2022 school year on Tuesday. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga held a media briefing on the state of readiness for the opening of schools for the 2022 school year on Tuesday. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 12, 2022

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Cape Town - Education activists say the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is not ready for the reopening of schools next week because many learners have still not been placed.

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said the placement of all learners was key if they were to talk about the state of readiness in the terrain of Basic Education.

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“We have noted that there are many learners who have yet to be placed, particularly in Gauteng and Western Cape provinces. The problem recurs every year, hence the department was called on to review the current application system with a view to make improvements,” Makaneta said.

This comes after the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga held a media briefing on the state of readiness for the opening of schools for the 2022 school year on Tuesday.

Motshekga said the department was aware that there were still learners who were yet to be placed in schools.

She said they would continue to work with provinces to ensure that they place all unplaced learners as a matter of urgency.

“We however, implore parents and guardians to accept the schools in which their learners are placed. When schools have reached their maximum capacities, further admissions become impossible,” Motshekga said.

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said despite over 32 000 late applications, and still counting, the WCED had worked hard to place as many learners as possible for the start of the 2022 school year.

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Hammond said placement had been stalled in some instances given the closure of schools. Additional placements could thus be made at the start of the school year.

She said at the end of December, there were 602 Grade 1s and 3 261 Grade 8s who still had to be placed in Western Cape schools. Those numbers will be updated when schools reopen on January 17.

“This is in comparison to December 2020, when 4 624 Grade 1 learners were unplaced, and 8 765 Grade 8 learners were unplaced," she said.

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Congress of SA Students (Cosas) provincial secretary Mphumzi Giwu said it had always been the case that the WCED had never been ready in terms of the state of readiness in opening schools, as many learners have not been placed.

Vanessa Le Roux, founder of a group called Parents for Equal Education SA, said: “At this point, I don’t know how to define readiness, as we are faced with so many learners who are not placed yet, readiness should be defined by when every learner is placed, we have become too comfortable with leaving too many learners from poor communities behind.”

Le Roux said they were inundated with calls from desperate parents trying to place their children, which makes her question the figures the WCED gives of unplaced learners, on December 2, they said 29 500 learners in the province haven’t been placed, they have allocated 45 additional mobile classrooms, which could never even make a slight difference to that total.

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