Mabona: Online registration system introduced to eliminate school gatekeeping

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi announced at a Monday press briefing that online school registrations had been postponed by a week for Grade one and Grade eight pupils.

The postponement follows objections by school governing bodies that don't want language policies to change in the proposed ways the DBE has proposed.

Read: 'We requested postponement because online system didn't reveal correct results'

To discuss the postponement, Eusebius McKaiser speaks to the Federation of Governing Bodies of South Africa (Fedsas) education technology manager Riaan van der Bergh and DBE spokesperson Steve Mabona.

Mabona says the thinking behind creating an online application system for Gauteng schools was because there were issues with the application process.

Our people didn't have recourse, when they go to any school, and apply for Grade one and Grade eight, there would be many queues, and the MEC felt that we needed to do something about this.

Steve Mabona, Spokesperson - DBE

People will queue from 12 am with camp chairs and there were schools that didn't want people to access the school because of race and all other things. After applying you would not be sure that you will get space at that particular school.

Steve Mabona, Spokesperson - DBE

He says some schools would even ask parents for upfront fees before they accepted pupils. The online system was therefore introduced to eliminate gatekeeping by the schools, he explains.

Van der Bergh says the reason why parents would queue outside the schools for hours on end was that there were not enough schools in the right areas.

So, you were queuing because you wanted to be first on the list, and it was not a question of gatekeeping, it was a question of capacity.

Riaan van der Bergh, Education technology manager- Fedsas

So if 400 people want to access the same school for 150 seats, you needed to be there earlier. So, we are not against technology, in fact, we want to embrace technology, but the scenario and the narrative in Gauteng are that more people want to access a school than the capacity the school can hold.

Riaan van der Bergh, Education technology manager- Fedsas

Mabona says Fedsas will always argue that schools lack capacity and he disagrees with that argument.

We have built over 43 schools, especially in the townships because we say that urban areas have enough schools; it is just that those schools are not accessed.

Steve Mabona, Spokesperson - DBE

He says the online system was set up to allow people to apply.

The criteria is very easy, the home address should take you where you want to go, in the same feeder zone.

Steve Mabona, Spokesperson - DBE

Van der Bergh says they have no issues with what Mabona is saying, and adds the letter they sent to the department had to do with the system not working properly.

Our letter to the department explained that there were functional errors to the system. The second level to that is the interpretation and application of the regulations. The regulations form part of a bigger legal framework which is a constitutional right for each pupil to opt for a preferential language of learning and teaching at the application phase.

Riaan van der Bergh, Education technology manager- Fedsas

Our other issue is that Grade R have to reapply even if they go to the same school.

Riaan van der Bergh, Education technology manager- Fedsas

He says feeder zones must make provisions for anomalies as well.

Listen below to the full debate on the online application system in Gauteng:


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