[lg policy] South Africa: Schools' fury over online admissions mess

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Apr 19 14:58:42 UTC 2016

Schools' fury over online admissions mess

Related News

   - [image: Online only, despite mess]
   only, despite mess
   - [image: Queue up the 'old way']
   <http://www.timeslive.co.za/thetimes/2016/04/13/Queue-up-the-old-way> Queue
   up the 'old way'
   - [image: Parents frustrated at not being able to use admissions website]
   frustrated at not being able to use admissions website

The Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools has prepared its court
papers for the eventuality.

The system crashed last week only hours after going online.

It could not cope with the 600 hits a second it was receiving.

Despite the system's capacity being improved by the Gauteng department of
education in the past week, the site was still malfunctioning hours before
its launch late last night.

But from today at 8am all Gauteng parents who want a place for their child
starting high school or in Grade 1 must apply online.

A Parkhurst parent who asked not to be named, fearing reprisal, said: "It's
a nightmare, this system. It keeps crashing and allocates kids to schools
not close to where they live."

Parents apply for the most sought-after schools on a first-come,
first-served basis - leading to worries that if the system fails they might
not get a place for their child at their preferred school.

On Friday the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools wrote to the
education department demanding that it allow parents the option of queueing
at schools.

"We have been given no assurance - or any confidence - that the site will
work after last week's crash," said federation CEO Paul Colditz.

He said schools were receiving many complaints about children being
allocated to schools 70km from where their parents work.

The Times spoke to parents from Parkhurst, Rosebank and Weltevreden Park
whose children had been allocated to schools in Alberton, more than an
hour's drive from homes.

Department spokesman Oupa Bodibe said: "We are aware of problems with the
website. We are fixing GPS co-ordinates. We are aware of system bugs. The
serious ones will be fixed when the site goes live," he said.

The federation also complained that the imposition of an online system
discriminated against parents without internet access or the money to pay
for the service of an internet cafe.

The president of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA,
Anthea Ceresto, said the union supported any project that reduced

"But it believes this online system is a first-world solution South Africa
is not ready for yet. It will further entrench inequality."

The federation is upset that parents cannot choose a school based on their
language preference.

Many parents trying to apply for Grade 1 at Weltevreden Park Primary, in
Randpark Ridge, complained that they were allocated Afrikaans schools by
the system.

One who spoke to The Times said her husband was British and could not speak

They wanted their child to go to an English-medium school and hoped to be
accepted at Weltevreden Park Primary. But the site was only allocating
schools that taught in Afrikaans.

The mother of two could not afford the private schools in the area, which
cost between R4200 and R5000 a month.

"If I don't get a place at Weltevreden Park Primary, I will have to home
school my child. I would rather queue for three days than deal with this."

The Schools Act allows governing bodies to have the final say on language
policy. The federation is concerned that the online registration system
will force schools to change their language policy, usurping the power of
governing bodies.


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