By MBALI TANANA, NONSINDISO QWABE and ZIPO NCOKAZI
Only a handful of more than 700 displaced pupils have been accommodated by government schools over the past two weeks since the 2017 academic school year officially started.
This is amid indications that a number of illegal private schools are popping up hoping to cash in on the demand for school places.
Parents, together with their children, have been frequenting the East London education district office, Stirling Leadership Institute and provincial head office in Zwelitsha, with the hope that their children will be placed in “good” schools.
The struggle continued yesterday for several parents who returned to the Stirling Leadership Institute.
Nobuntu Kwali said she had applied to four schools early last year, but still, as of yesterday, none had responded, nor had her child been placed into any schools by the department as yet.
“We have been moving from one education office to another and nothing has been resolved as of yet. This is the ANC that we have voted for. Maybe it’s time we knocked on different doors because this is unacceptable.”
Kwali and a team of parents left the institute and proceeded to the ANC regional office in Oxford Street before they gathered outside the city hall where they got the chance to share their plight with Buffalo City Metro mayor Xola Pakati.
A stunned Pakati said the issue was not a municipal one, but he invited two parents inside to speak to his spokesman.
Education superintendent-general Themba Kojana, who addressed about 50 disgruntled parents silently protesting at the Stirling Institute last week, said the problem was they were all targeting the same schools.
“Neighbouring schools in your community aren’t good enough for you, while the schools you want are the ones that don’t take you.”
Kojana said the department was dealing with admission problems across the province, with the East London district’s problem being a drop in the ocean.
Ndileka Mbotho said it was no surprise that the pupils who could not be placed in schools were all black.
“There’s not a single white child among us, yet we are told this is not a matter of white supremacy.
“The schools in the townships, which we are being sent to, are ungovernable and under-performing and the government is doing nothing about them.
“We also want our children in the good schools.”
In addition to the problems with space at schools for pupils, department spokesman Mali Mtima said they had discovered a number of private schools operating illegally in the province since the start of the academic year.
“These illegal private schools, mushrooming across the province, are enrolling pupils who are unaware of their status with the department, but those guilty of this practice must know they will face the full wrath of the law.”
He said operators of these schools found to be on the wrong side of the law would face the likelihood of being blacklisted, would not be considered for registration and not be eligible for government subsidies.
He also urged parents to take responsibility and verify a school with the department before they registered their children.
Mtima said independent schools operated under strict regulations and those that did not adhere would be liable upon conviction to pay a fine or their operators would face imprisonment.
“No person may establish or maintain a school that has not been registered. Also, no person may establish or maintain a school that has been deregistered.”
He said all companies and individuals interested in operating private schools should visit their district offices for assistance on regulation and operation. — email@example.com