Eba Kandovazu

THE EXECUTIVE Director in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Sanet Steenkamp, says parents who only apply for school placement when schools reopen present the ministry with a challenge.

This is every year’s challenge in January, despite rigorous campaigns by the ministry to sensitise parents and encourage them to apply on time. “These parents come to regional offices to look for placement. This means that although the regions may have finalised their placements, and all the children that applied in good time were placed, additional places now have to be found for the unplaced learners,” Steenkamp says.

According to her, another challenge the ministry experiences this time of the year is learners applying to multiple schools and getting accepted and subsequently choosing one school without communicating with other schools. “The schools will then have to make an effort to get the parents to confirm their child’s attendance. According to the school rules, learners are expected to be at school on the first day of the school, unless parents have made prior communications to arrange for the learner to come to school at a later date. In an event where the parents are not reachable, the school has to hold a place for the learner for a certain period of time as per the ministerial regulations before the place can be given to another learner. School placement is a challenge but the ministry is working tirelessly to overcome these challenges, “Steenkamp says.

Although she cannot state the number of learners currently unplaced in school, Steenkamp says the grades that usually experience challenges are pre-primary, grade one and grade eight. She says the ministry is still awaiting placement data, which she says will be provided next week.

“Khomas region for example collates information from all the schools to identify duplications of placements and identifies spaces in schools. Unplaced learners who are registered at the regional office are then allocated possible places in schools where they can be placed. This is of course not always the school of their choice,”Steenkamp explains, adding that Khomas, Erongo and Oshana usually have the highest number of unplaced learners.