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Online school application anguish for gran


Cape Town – Delft grandmother Samaria Dickenson fears her granddaughter Grace Wagener, 14, may be one of thousands of children without a school for next year after all her early applications were unsuccessful and no alternative offered.

She also had no success in using the online process.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said they have received around 157 000 applications to date, and placement figures had not yet been finalised as they were still verifying with schools.

An anxious Dickenson said: “I tried my best to make sure she would have a school for next year. I went to all the schools very early with all my documents, first approaching her sister’s school because they are siblings. There I was told I must apply online. I went to another school as a back-up and was told the same thing. I told them I don’t understand how but they insisted that the process is online and they would not accept my applications.

“Eventually, I found someone to assist me, a neighbour took my details to work where she had access to the internet. Last month, I went back to the schools to follow up, to find out the child was not accepted and nobody even informed me, they said it’s online.”

She has now been placed on a waiting list for another school.

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said Dickenson did apply on time.

“In two instances, the learner did not meet the admission criteria and in the other three instances, the schools were oversubscribed. The way in which the parent applied did not affect the application.

“The WCED is currently collating data which is informing our management plan to address learner placement for 2022. This data will inform us where the hotspots lie, where there is a need for additional classrooms and teachers and where there may be gaps in which to fill.”

She added that they would address the concern about manual applications not being accepted.

“The WCED has made it clear to schools that manual application can be done if a parent is unable to get access, or they must assist the parent directly,” said Hammond.

Equal Education Law Clinic (EELC) spokesperson Tad Khosa said they have received many similar concerns.

“This is something we’ve seen with the admissions process especially with online, it is inaccessible for many.

“The tutorials released did not really deal with the problem as it still required digital literacy and data. When it comes to applying on time, it is up to the officials to offer a remedy so that the learner and parent don’t have this uncertainty.”

Learner placement remains a contentious issue in the province as by April this year the WCED was still implementing a plan to place 2 550 pupils.

For free legal assistance on education related matters, EELC can be contacted on 0800 110 752 or [email protected]

Cape Times