The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says it has found a school for all the learners that have been learning in an open field in Forest Village, Cape Town.
“The WCED has been contacting parents over the past week to make offers of placement. Half of the learners have already been placed at schools,” said Education MEC .
However, the department is still struggling to contact some of the parents of the remaining learners, who have provided incorrect contact numbers or whose phones go to voicemail.
“We urge the parents of those learners to contact their district to take up the placement offers,” she added.
According to Daily Maverick, the “makeshift school” started operating on a field next to Forest Village, Eerste River, on 16 February, where about 450 pupils attended.
Meanwhile, Schäfer said they are working hard to place the remaining learners in the province that are still not placed. “Obviously, this remains a concern for us that they are still not in a school,” she stressed.
According to the MEC, the number has reduced from 13 800 at the beginning of the year to 4 188.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Schäfer said this is not due to a lack of planning or effort on the part of the WCED.
“We have warned for years of the pressure that we are under… We are nonetheless doing everything we can to try to accommodate the increase this year as best we can.”
The WCED said it has appointed additional teachers in areas where demand is growing rapidly, which led to over 1 000 learners being placed in the past week.
“As a result of our continuing struggle to place learners, we met with the Premier, the Provincial Minister of Finance and Provincial Treasury, to discuss urgent solutions,” the MEC said, adding that the WCED met with Treasury officials last week again to continue the discussion.
The MEC said the group occupying the Rosendal House property belonging to the Department of Higher Education and Training after their children were not placed in schools has finally granted them access to some information.
However, Schäfer said the information was inadequate to successfully place learners.
“We need proof of which grade they have passed, and the details of their previous school. After the SAHRC met with us about this matter and asked how they could help, we wrote to them on 1 April to request their help in obtaining the full details of the learners.”
In addition, the department said it had a constructive and encouraging engagement with the Public Service Commission (PSC), which is also looking into the matter.
“The PSC recognised that we have a plan of action to address the immediate problem this year, and the serious long-term constraints the department is facing. We trust that they will investigate education issues across the country, including placement and funding constraints, with a view to making recommendations as to how these challenges can be addressed,” the MEC added.
Meanwhile, the MEC said the department has also been hard at work on the catch-up plan for those learners who have been placed late and are also looking into including these learners in the autumn schools where necessary.