A few hiccups, but applying for schools online is working

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A few hiccups, but applying for schools online is working

Gauteng system went live on Monday, to be met with mixed reactions from parents but few real problems

Journalist


A tweet from Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi – “276,162 applications within two hours” – summed up the first day of his department’s online applications for next year’s Grade 1 and 8 pupils.
The online applications system, which went live at 8am on Monday, was met with mixed reactions from some parents, although most did not appear to have had any problems applying.
One tweet Lesufi received was: “Thanks for initiative. This online application, MEC, it works great. Just applied for my daughter at a nearby school which is convenient for her to travel to.”
A tweet from Nokuthula Sangweni, however, wasn’t very complimentary: “I’m in South Crest Alberton and can pick up all the high schools in Alberton. Parkland High and Alberton High School are not listed on the system. Been trying since 8am, your phone contact lines are down, please assist.”
Another parent, Alaison Kenny, was also “very disappointed”, and tweeted: “The exact issue identified on the test site happened. The home option brought no school selection. Had to choose the within 30km option.  Now I have a WA4 [waiting list number] ref instead of WA1.”
Ernst Roets tweeted: “Panyaza Lesufi is concerned with targeting well functioning schools much more than with fixing dysfunctional schools.”
Lesufi shot back: “If your ancestors didn’t give us gutter education dysfunctional schools won’t exist. Beside, all schools belong to all our children ... your accusation is baseless.”
The department was forced to postpone the process from last week to Monday after the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas) and the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie requested a a delay as the department was implementing the newly amended admissions regulations for the first time.
Paul Colditz, CEO of Fedsas, said they asked for the implementation to be delayed because when the system was made available for testing at the end of April it was found that it only allocated the closest school to the parents’ home address.
He said that when they attended a testing and demonstration session last Wednesday, after the department delayed the implementation of the system, users were then given not only the school closest to their home address but all the schools within the 30km feeder zone radius.
“You could now select five schools that would suit the profile of your child within the 30km range,” said Colditz.
He said he had received about five complaints from parents who went online on Monday to apply for admission for their children next year.
Colditz said one of the parents, who lived close to a school in which he wanted to enrol his child, was given a WA4 number, meaning his application would not be given first priority.
“You should get a WA1 if the school is in the school feeder zone and it’s your closest school. A WA1 would almost guarantee him a place,” said Colditz.
Another parent, Yolanda Theron, said she had to start work an hour later on Monday because she had to go online at 8am to apply. After three unsuccessful attempts she managed to log onto the system after 8.10am.
“It’s quite nerve-wracking because you know there’s only limited space available. I was lucky as I got a WA1.”
Gauteng education spokesman, Steve Mabona, said the system was slow but recovered quickly.
"We realised that people who were using wifi struggled, however those who used cellphones managed to apply.''
He said the department received more compliments than complaints, adding that they were confident that all complaints will be resolved.
There are 320 000 places for grade 1 and 8 pupils.

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