South Africa


Western Cape faces a ‘mammoth administrative challenge’ with almost 166,000 school applications for 2024

Western Cape faces a ‘mammoth administrative challenge’ with almost 166,000 school applications for 2024
Louisa Motlalepule is assisted while enrolling her son into the school system. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

The deadline for online admission applications to Western Cape schools for next year has now passed – but parents can still make late applications until 25 May. Earlier, there were reports of parents struggling to access the new online portal. More than 30 Daily Maverick readers have since responded to a survey indicating they experienced difficulties with the site, 19 of whom were from the Western Cape.

The Western Cape Education Department has officially closed the monthlong window in which parents could apply for their children to be admitted to a school in the province in 2024. 

The Western Cape Education Department this year moved the application process from the national government’s State Information and Technology Agency (Sita) platform to a new provincial portal, after the Sita system crashed in 2022 and the deadline had to be extended.

Daily Maverick reported last month that some parents were struggling to file their applications online.

Read more in Daily Maverick: New Western Cape portal stymies worried parents looking to place kids in school for 2024

Education MEC David Maynier said that during the admissions window, the department received 165,993 applications for the 2024 school year. 

“The parents of 156,093 learners submitted applications on time during the admissions applications window. The parents of a further 9,900 learners have submitted late applications, as we have kept the online system open to capture these as we have done in previous years,” said Maynier. 

This brings to 165,993 the number of unique learner applications so far. And with some parents applying to more than one school, the total number of applications is a whopping 536,764.

“This presents a mammoth administrative challenge, and our staff has worked tirelessly to get the applications processed and any technical challenges resolved,” said Maynier. 

“We thank the parents who put in the effort to apply on time and help us to plan for a place for their child in a school next year.” 

He also said that applications received after the deadline would be considered as late applications. Schools will only consider these applications once they have processed the applications that were received on time.

“Parents will still be able to capture applications on the online system, but they will be flagged as late applications. The deadline for late applications will be 25 May 2023. It is imperative that parents do not delay applying any further. By doing so, it will affect our planning processes and could result in delays in placing your child.” 

Daily Maverick ran a survey for a month (March-April) in which readers were asked if they were struggling with school applications. 

Of the 31 respondents who said they experienced challenges with the online applications, 19 were from the Western Cape. 

“I’m helping a backyard dweller apply for a Grade 8 place for his daughter. The problem is, he doesn’t have proof of his address – no rates or other utility bills – and when I tried the ‘contact us’ page on the website to find out how to get around this problem, phones rang unanswered or just cut off,” reads one response. 

Western Cape Education Department did not respond to a Daily Maverick question about what applicants can do in situations like this. 

Another parent said they initially struggled and then requested assistance via online support. 

“I was unable to select any schools as the system had failed to provide the step asking from which grade and to which grade my child was moving. Even restarting the application did not work.

“We then used my partner’s login and the process went smoothly. About a week later, I received a response to the support request and informed them that I’d resolved the issue.”

The parent said they had assisted others who also experienced issues.

“Overall, the process wasn’t a disaster, but it definitely needs a bit more usability testing. Oh, and where it asked what sports a child did, ‘Cross Cunty’ was an option. I found that pretty funny.”

Maynier gave the assurance that parents who logged a query for technical assistance before the deadline would be considered to have applied on time. DM


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