Parents find children without place at school

Parents, from left, Moses Tjamela, Tshepo Majoe, John Katemba, Mlaka Seva, Morris Nongabe and Dorothy Million are waiting for answers from the Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School.

Scores of irate parents descended on Oranjekloof Moravian Primary School last week asking why their children weren’t admitted despite, they say, being registered earlier last year.

Groups of parents were camped outside the school’s office from Monday January 9, two days before school opened, waiting for new school principal Mkhululi Qaba to clarify the school’s position.

Many feared their children would be “sitting at home” this year unless they could be accommodated at the school.

“When we registered our kids last year, we were told that we would be phoned before the school year started, but that never happened,” said parent Morris Nongabe.

“Since school opened, we have been chased away, but we want to have this issue resolved. All the principal has told us is that we should wait 10 days to see who can be admitted, and that we should submit a form to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).”

Mr Nongabe, whose grandchildren were scheduled to start Grade 1 this year, believes there is more than enough room at the school.

“Most of the classrooms have empty spaces. This new principal tells us that he comes from Rondebosch, but he is supposed to be prepared. It’s the start of the school year, but you can already see that there is rubbish all over.”

Moses Tjamela has relocated from Bloemfontein for work and was expecting his child to be in the school’s Grade 7 class this

“Parents have already spent a lot of money buying school uniforms this year, and now this has happened. We also had to spend a lot of money taking the bus from Bloemfontein,” he said, adding that the clerical system at Oranje-
kloof Moravian Primary was “very poor”.

“What shocks me is that we have never been given the policy of the school. All we are referred to is the policy of the education department by this principal. We are not getting answers.”

Another of the affected parents is John Katemba, an Imizamo Yethu resident who was injured in a fire after coming to the aid of a woman in November 2015.

Mr Katemba left his fruit and vegetable container, a business he has been running for the past six years, in the hands of his cousin, trusting he would look after his business, which was the family’s bread and butter. However, after returning home from a two-week hospital stay, his container was empty with no sign of his stock or his cousin (“IY resident struggles with life after fire,” Sentinel, August 5 2016).

He has since had three operations on his injured kneecap, racking up a huge hospital bill in the process. This year, he was hoping to see his child enrolled at the school.

“I actually just came out of hospital again and was hoping to see my child start at the Moravian school,” he said.

Mr Nongabe claimed 76 children still had to be accommodated after being registered last year.

When the Sentinel tried to speak to Mr Qaba on Thursday he was in meetings, and his receptionist said we should phone him.

After leaving a message for him on Monday January 17, the Sentinel called the school again on Tuesday this week. His receptionist relayed a message from Mr Qaba that the Sentinel should contact the education department for comment.

Last year, the school agreed to give a school collaboration project it almost bailed out of a second chance and work with a new partner organisation.

The WCED started the pilot programme – planned to run for the next five years – to test a new model of schooling that ropes in managerial and training resources from the private sector to support schools in need.

It runs on a non-profit basis with the full agreement of the participating SGB (“Two schools to test new partnership model,” Sentinel News, November 20).

The project hit a snag last March when rumours started circulating that the school was going to be privatised, school fees charged, admission policies changed and parents left out of decision-ma-

Following detailed explanation from Education MEC, Debbie Schafer, the misconception about the programme was rectified and parents had a better understanding of how the pilot programme would benefit the school and their children.

Two requests for comment were sent to education department spokeswoman Jessica Shelver this week. She responded to neither
by the time this edition went to print.