For some, it's been a gloomy start to the new school year
Our WhatsApp line and emails have been buzzing with messages from parents asking how to deal with challenges like school admissions and readmission/ registration fees.
"Research shows if we believe stress is a helpful response that will increase our performance in a challenging event, it can be a tool that works to our advantage." (iStock)
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The new school year has kicked off and for some it was a rough start. 

Our WhatsApp line has been buzzing and our email is overloaded with messages from parents asking how to deal with challenges like late school admissions,  readmission/registration fees, withelf report cards and the crippling expense of uniforms and stationary.

Unfortunately, despite government efforts, there are still many children who have not been placed in schools, and especially in grades 1 and 8, all over South Africa. 

The online admission system for Gauteng parents was re-opened this week, to allow parents to find schools for those kids who have not yet been placed.

Read more here: Gauteng Education Department re-opening for late admissions

Despite the frustration expressed by parents, the MEC of Education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi says there is no disarray regarding the online admission system.

Lesufi says Gauteng schools are in high demand and reassured parents that all children in Gauteng will be placed in schools.

The Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) have outlined steps on their website for parents to follow if their children have not been placed in a school yet.

If a child hasn't yet been placed, parents must:

1. Contact the schools where you applied at to make sure they know that you still need a place.

2. Ask the school to re-consider and ask that the learner be placed on the waiting list.

3. Contact other schools in your area as places could become available.

4. Contact the district office to make sure that the learner is on the list of unplaced learners.

The department also released steps detailing how they would respond to the matter from their end to assist learners with placements.

The WCED has committed to:

1. Work from the list of unplaced learners on the system to see who still needs a place.

2. Identify which schools still have available places and advise parents of these options.

3. Identify where additional classes can be opened in 2020.

4. Will contact you once places are identified and they will advise you on the options that become available.

Stealing our children's education

A fire broke out at Khutlo-Tharo Secondary, a school in Gauteng,hours before the new school day started. Simon Nwamba, a journalist that was on the scene, told News24 that only the administration block was affected.

Due to a shortage of water supply community members struggled to keep the fire under control before three fire engines arrived two hours later.

A number of school robberies were reported in the first weeks of 2020 too. 

Panyaza Lesufi shared he was "appalled and galled by burglaries, break-ins and vandalism at some of our provincial schools" adding that "The thieves did not just steal information communication technology equipment, they tried to steal our children's education, frustrating our strategy of infrastructure, innovation and education."

He remains committed to reducing school crime and "ensuring that children don't suffer because of the reckless, damaging acts of a few vandals and thieves," he said. 

Withheld report cards

Parent24 has previously reported schools are not allowed to withhold report cards. 

Read more here: Withholding school reports, for any reason, is against the law

Sue Larkan of Tabansi, who advocates for students and parents, stressed that there is no reason a school should withhold reports, assessments or matric certificates.

The regulations state:

a) Section 25 (12) of the National Protocol on Assessment 2011, a school may not withhold a report card for any reason.

b) 2006 - An amendment to the South African Schools Act makes it illegal for pupils to be marginalised.

c) The Act prohibits schools from denying pupils textbooks, keeping them out of school and withholding their reports.

It is the duty of the school to provide parents with their child's report card at the end of an academic year, and should they fail to do so it is within the rights of the parents to explore a legal route.

Registration Fees

Parents have also shared that schools continue to demand they pay re-registration fees for their kids to return to school. The amounts vary, but we've been told of figures from R 1 500 and as high as R 3 000. 

The Education Laws Amendment Act, 2005 (Act 24 of 2005) added subsection (5) to Section 39 of SASA, says:

"(5) No public school may charge any registration, administration or other fees except school fees as defined in Section 1

Read more here: Are schools allowed to charge re-registration fees? An expert says no

What are some of the challenge you are facing as school year kicks off this week?

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