WCED finalises plan to place remaining unplaced learners
Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education Western Cape
The WCED is currently implementing a plan to place the 2 550 learners that are currently registered as unplaced in the Western Cape. The plan includes the provision of 129 mobile classrooms to schools, as well as the addition of teaching posts.
While some schools already have extra classrooms available, others do require mobile classrooms. Unfortunately, the mobile classrooms take time to construct and can’t be placed immediately. However, schools that have received the additional teaching posts have agreed to accommodate learners in alternative spaces until the classrooms are constructed (such as the school hall or laboratory space).
The important thing is that these learners will be placed in schools - ready to begin the second term.
The WCED is well aware that these learners have missed a full term of work, and lesson packs for the 1st term will be made available at the schools where the learners will be placed. District officials will also guide schools on how to support learners with a catch-up plan, and will also be monitoring the learners’ assessment results for the 2nd term to determine future support programmes.
The above plan would not be possible without additional funding. This has been the main ‘thorn’ in our side with regards to additional infrastructure and teachers. We have had to reprioritise existing funding to fund this, and this means our future budget allocations will be negatively affected, as well as our current long-term plans.
We are also very aware of the fact that we will continue to see growth in learner numbers in this province – which means that more schools, more teachers, and more resources are required. We will struggle to place more learners if we do not receive more funding.
If the trend of in-migration also continues without additional funding, the problem will be insurmountable. First-time registrations of learners from other provinces and countries contributes towards this growth. We placed 21 021 new learners in 2020 and 19 452 learners in 2021, most of whom are from the Eastern Cape.
I must go on record and be clear: Western Cape schools are full.
At this stage, we will have to plan very carefully to place those that have applied for space for 2022 given the constraints of our budget. Late applications and sudden growth in certain areas hinder this process, and parents should not wait until the start of the next school year before trying to find a place for their children.
While I am pleased with the progress made in placing the learners that are unplaced and are on our system, I am very aware that there are learners in Mfuleni and Eerste River that are not placed because we do not have the names, IDs, addresses and previous school and grades passed, that we need in order to place them.
We have been able to verify and place 111 learners at the illegal “school” under the trees in Eerste River, with a further 99 learners having been informed of their placement. It is interesting to note that of the 111 learners, 83 had been registered at and had been attending other schools. However, their parents, for whatever reason, decided to take them out of their schools to try and create an illegal institution.
The same is being reported at Rosendal – where learners have reportedly left schools that they were accepted in and instead attend this illegal institution, demanding that we recognise it as a school. The numbers at this venue are unclear. We have tried time and time again, even with police escort, to try and get the detailed list of learners needing placement. Unfortunately, much like the Eerste River site, the people “in charge” have been uncooperative.
We have sought the assistance of the South African Human Rights Commission and Equal Education to help produce clear and substantiated lists. However, we have had no response from the SAHRC in this regard, and Equal Education has yet to produce any verifiable data. This is most unfortunate as we had hoped to have their assistance in this regard, since they raised concerns regarding these unplaced learners. The Human Rights Commission has vast powers that we were hoping they would utilise to assist us, as the facility at Rosendal is not a Western Cape Government property.
We will continue to try to get this information, because we cannot place learners without their full details. I urge the various organisations and politicians who have been making comments in the media to actually assist us in getting this information, rather than making unsubstantiated claims about those attending these illegal facilities.
Spokesperson to Minister Debbie Schäfer
Western Cape Ministry of Education