The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Western Cape

3579 Extremely Late Applications Pour in for Grade 1 and Grade 8 Learners

Michael Hawthorne

The Western Cape Ministry of Education is facing a significant challenge with 3579 extremely late applications for Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners for the 2024 school year, as revealed in a recent statement. Despite ongoing efforts to address these late entries, the department is navigating through obstacles such as budget setbacks and delays in the national budget process.

In the media statement, officials reported that they have been diligently working since before schools reopened to find places for learners and to complete an extensive infrastructure program aimed at creating additional spaces. However, the previous financial year saw a massive blow of R716.4 million to the overall budget, precisely when funds were crucial for building more schools and employing additional teachers to meet the rising demands for admissions.

The collapse of the national budget process further exacerbated the situation, preventing the initiation of contracts or the start of building projects until late last year when the adjustment budget was announced. Despite these challenges, the Ministry has made commendable progress, completing 255 additional classrooms.

Learners are already attending classes in new schools in Belhar, Kwanokuthula, Fisherhaven, Saldanha, Hout Bay, and Macassar. Additionally, new classrooms have been added to existing schools in high-demand areas across the province. The Ministry has a further 317 classrooms currently under construction at new and existing schools, with delivery dates starting from the end of the month.

Efforts to address disruptions at construction sites, including securing an interdict against disruptions at the Blueridge Sports Grounds, have contributed to steady progress towards delivering new schools.

Despite these achievements, the Ministry faces a unique challenge with extremely late applications. Since January 1, 2024, 3,579 Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners submitted applications, with 3,208 already placed, and placement in progress for the remaining 371. These late applications are arriving daily in an unpredictable pattern, making resource allocation and planning extremely difficult.

The Ministry acknowledges the frustration that the placement process may cause for parents and urges patience as they work to redirect resources and accommodate every learner. Kerry Mauchline, the spokesperson for Minister David Maynier, expressed gratitude for the extraordinary efforts of the infrastructure team, district officials, schools, and contractors who have worked tirelessly under challenging conditions.

The Ministry is committed to leaving no stone unturned in its effort to place every learner and assures parents that they are doing everything possible to expedite placements for the remaining students.



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