Pretoria – Hundreds of parents braved the chilly morning to be the first in line at schools around Gauteng to book a space for their children at schools close to their residential areas and places of work for the 2016 academic year.

On Tuesday, SAnews visited two schools in Pretoria to monitor the registration process. The Gauteng Education Department last week advised parents to collect application forms at schools near their homes or workplace on 13 April and return forms between 21 and 26 April.

On arrival at Hamilton Primary School in Pretoria central, more than 50 parents, who were the last group allowed inside the school for the day, were queuing outside the school administration offices to submit the forms and most of them were likely to be on a waiting list.

One parent said the queue was very long in the morning because forms are only being submitted between 8am and 9.30am every morning.

Magdeline Mashoene was sitting on a bench inside the administration offices to submit application forms for her five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son, hoping to find space for them at the school. She said her daughter will be starting grade R and her son grade 2 next year.

Mashoene said she preferred the school because it is close to her residence and it offered good education.

“This is a good school. I want my children to study here because the standard of education is high and parents are always updated about their children’s performance,” she said.

Mashoene said she was aware that most parents wanted to place their children at the school but still wished to see her own being admitted. She said she is going to apply for registration at other nearby schools, in case her children do not get admitted on the basis of high demand at Hamilton.

Nancy Masethe, 33, also wished to find space for her daughter at Hamilton as she will be living with her as of next year.

“My daughter will be doing grade 2 next year. I want to remove her from her current school back home in Limpopo because the quality of education there is poor compared to this school. I also want her to learn proper English from an early age,” she said.

It is said that the school receives a lot of applications every year because it is convenient for most parents to drop off their children on their way to work, and also because it is surrounded by flats in Pretoria central.

Unlike Hamilton Primary School, the demand for registration forms at Arcadia Primary school was not that high.

The school’s principal Sid Viljoen told SAnews that this is because the school is surrounded by businesses and embassies rather than residential places, and it does not receive an exorbitant amount of applications like Hamilton.

He said his school accommodates a population of 800 learners from grade R to 7, and the number is constant every year.

Viljoen, who is also the chairperson for Inner-city Primary Schools in Pretoria, urged parents to apply to more than one school to avoid chances of their children not being admitted because of space.

He said, in most cases, the junior classes — grade R, 1, 2 and 3 — are likely to be full as most applications are for those classes, and they make 50 percent of the school.

“In other classes you find that learners have been in the school since junior phase and are automatically moving to the next class when they pass. The demand is not that high,” said Viljoen.

Last week, the Gauteng Education Department said the 2015 academic year had almost 30 000 late applications, which is double the number usually received during this period.

“This prompted the department to provide additional Ordinary Alternative Construction Technology (ACT) classrooms in schools where there was high demand,” said the department.

The department said it is critical for parents to register their children during this period to avoid the challenges that comes with late registration in January.

“Applying late outside of the stipulated period reduces the chances of parents getting the school of their choice where they meet the criteria.

“This also means that learners will be placed at a school where there is space available. This might not be close to where their parents work or reside,” the department said. – SAnews.gov.za

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