At the beginning of the year, the Gauteng Department of Education was faced with a challenge of having to place about 35,000 learners who were not placed in schools in the province.
“The department worked hard and had placed a substantial number of both learners that had applied online and those that applied for the first time in January, within two weeks in January 2017.”
This after the department introduced the online admission system to ensure equity, eliminate queues at schools and provide accurate and timely information to enable planning.
The MEC said the campaign has been a relative success with some challenges.
“A substantial number of learners, around 80%, were placed by August 2016. This enabled the department to plan around provision of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM); educators; classrooms and infrastructure; as well as school furniture.”
He said a further 19,000 new applications were received through the 62 walk-in centres that the department had set up in January 2017.
MEC Lesufi said the department will continue to use the online application system for 2018 learner admission into public schools.
“Several lessons have been learnt. We have been working on technical challenges experienced in the last admission period. There are improvements with regard to the application and more enhancements to infrastructure and the App features.
“Technical improvements include upgrading of the current server infrastructure to accommodate over 30,000 hits per second; ID Verification from Department of Home Affairs will be integrated; and GPS will be integrated to ensure that geographic locations are correct.
“We will work with e-Government Department to further refine and improve the online application, as a pilot for government wide applications for services. We urge parents to take the opportunity and apply early. Details will be released on due course.”
He said the admission challenge has brought into sharp relief the need for more schools and classrooms in Gauteng. Initial estimates indicate that the province requires 200 additional schools to deal with the historical backlog and meet new demand.
“Since 2014, we have built about 43 new schools, including new Information Communication Technology-enabled classrooms in existing schools.
“This year, the department will officially open 13 new brick and mortar schools and build schools out of Alternative Construction Technology (ACT) to alleviate admission pressure.”
The department said it will continue to open a school every month. In January, the department opened Nomzamo Madikizela Mandela Primary School in Braamfischerville, Soweto.
MEC Lesufi said the department will, together with the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID), officially open the Soshanguve East Secondary School.
He said township schools recorded the largest increases in matric passes for 2016. “We have narrowed the performance gap between fee-paying and non-fee paying schools from 27% in 2011 to 11% in 2016.”
The provincial pass rate has increased from 84.2% in 2015 to 85.1% in 2016. Most importantly, Gauteng contributed a remarkable 23% of all Bachelor passes in the country and 22% of all distinctions. It also has a high proportion of schools achieving 100% pass rate.
The quality of performance is spread evenly in all the districts, with 14 out 15 districts recording a pass rate of 80% and more.
However, the MEC said all districts in the province surpassed the national average in the matric pass rate. “We are proud that out of 33 schools that obtained 100% during the 2016 NSC results, eight were from the townships.”