23 January 2018

South Africa: Kraaifontein Parents Demand Places in School for Their Children

Angry parents demonstrated outside Bloekombos Primary School in Kraaifontein on Monday, demanding that the Western Cape Education Department put up prefab classrooms for children who were turned away from local schools.

The Department said the parents had failed to enrol their children in time. But officials would work with the parents to place these learners in schools. "We are looking at placing mobile classrooms at nearby schools to accommodate the unexpected growth," said Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Debbie Schafer, MEC for education.

Singing "amandla awasoze aphele," (our power will never die) parents locked the main gate of the school to prevent teachers and learners from going home.

Community leader Linda Phito said the parents wanted the department to set up prefab classrooms in all primary schools in Wallacedene and Bloekombos to accommodate children who could not find places at local schools.

"We identified an open space near Bloekombos Clinic where the department can place the temporary classrooms," he said.

Phito said there were about 500 children from Grade one to seven who could not find places at schools in Wallacedene and Bloekombos.

Bloekombos Primary School principal Thula Batyi said there were 298 children on the school's waiting list. "We have no space. We can accommodate more learners only if the department gives us prefab classrooms and nine teachers," he said.

Batyi said classrooms were already overcrowded. "We are supposed to have 38 learners in each classroom, but some classrooms have 46 to 57 learners," he said.

Batyi said the demonstration outside the school gate filled teachers with fear.

"We are locked inside the school yard. How do we get out?" he asked.

Mhlakaza Malehloholo said she had registered her children aged 5, 10 and 13, at Bloekombos Primary School in December last year.

She said: "When I brought the kids' final reports and testimonials in January, the teachers told me that the kids have been accepted and I must just wait for their call. The teachers also gave me a list of the stationery the learners would need."

"I have already bought stationery and uniforms for the kids, but now the teachers tell me the school is full. I have wasted my money," said Malehloholo.

Sinazo Vena said she had registered her child in Grade five at nearby Ekuthuleni Primary School in October last year. "The school principal now says my kid is on the waiting list even though I registered her on time. I want my kid to attend school and study to become a nurse," she said.

Moses Nkosemntu said he wanted his daughter to attend Grade two at Bloekombos Primary School because it is close to where he lives. "I want my kid to study and become a professional. I don't want her to be a general worker like me," he said.

Shelver said: "The parents protesting at Bloekombos Primary on Monday are parents of learners who reportedly failed to enrol their children on time. This means that they are late applications."

"The parents failure to enrol their children on time made it impossible for the WCED to foresee and plan accordingly," she said. "Our officials will work with the parents to place these learners in schools. We are looking at placing mobile classrooms at nearby schools to accommodate the unexpected growth. We now urge parents to work with us to ensure that the learners are placed as quickly as possible."

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