WCED grilled by Parliament over unplaced pupils
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Cape Town - Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has questioned why the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) could not place all pupils at schools, before the opening of schools in February.
The committee received a briefing from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the 2021 pupil admissions report this week, which the WCED was part of, as it still had unplaced pupils until about six weeks ago.
Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said, according to the latest information available, the province had 109 unplaced pupils earlier this month, but only due to the fact that parents had not confirmed taking up the spaces at schools that have been made available to them.
Mbinqo-Gigaba said the WCED had over 5 000 pupils to be placed in March, and that the number was reduced to 3 786 by April 13. The remaining unplaced pupils stood at 1 228 as of April 24.
"Updated information received on May 10 indicates that the figure of unplaced learners was at 109. All 109 pupils have been accommodated, but parents have not confirmed with the schools where space for the pupils had been allocated," she said.
She said the WCED released more than 400 additional posts in March and an additional 179 posts were added in April to relieve pressure and place pupils in schools, and that a further 43 classrooms were opened after the appointment of additional teachers. In addition, 129 mobile classrooms were procured and delivery has commenced.
Mbinqo-Gigaba said the DBE told the committee that it was the responsibility of every parent and guardian to ensure that their children were registered for the following year, well before the end of the current school year.
DBE director for education management and governance James Ndlebe said only the Western Cape still has outstanding pupils to place.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said while they were able to make a contingency plan, with extra teaching posts and mobile classrooms, that was not without serious consequences for their budget. She said, without additional funding to cover this, they would struggle to place pupils next year.