POLOKWANE – According to regulations, schools have feeder zones, which means learners in the immediate area of the school qualify first and foremost.
One parent BONUS spoke to said they moved to a suburban area regardless of the higher living costs out of desperation to secure space for their child in a better school.
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“At the time, I couldn’t even afford to rent an apartment as I came from the villages and the schools there really lack in all aspects. My child was going to miss out on both academic growth and personal growth,” explained Evelyn Mashiane.
Her sentiments were confirmed in a report commissioned by the Education Department, which stated that schools in rural areas underperform and lack extracurricular activities which assist in developing children, and as a result, parents are becoming more and more desperate for quality education.
This has led to a secondary problem, being that of parents submitting fraudulent proof of residence in order for their children to get into ‘better’ schools.
One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said she works in the city and her children will be attending Gr R next year.
“I applied at a school in the city, but my application was declined because I couldn’t produce proof of residence in the school’s immediate area.
“I know there are parents who submit incorrect proof of residence and as a result, the child gets admitted into the school. The harsh reality is the child has to wake up early in the morning to catch a bus to travel into the city. I live no more than 30 minutes from Polokwane and I can guarantee you that my child was never going to be late for school because I would drop her off before heading to work.”
She said she wished the Education Department would apply the regulations stricter in terms of verifying residential addresses in learner applications.
Sam Mukondo, Spokesperson for the department, said they have directed all schools and circuits to verify residential areas by exhausting all avenues to verify if indeed an applicant is honest and has submitted the correct documentation. “Applicants are usually declined because of space restraints,” he confirmed.
“Also, nowadays we see an increase in parents who wish for their children to attend school in the city. Applicants who submit incorrect documentation will be dealt with according to the law.”
The department discourages applicants from submitting incorrect information as it affects and delays the processing of applications as well as discredits the applicant for future applications.
“The main reason for this measures being put into place is to try and control overcrowding in schools and also the problem of children having to travel many kilometres to school.
Education must be easily accessible to all children and the stigma that rural schools offer education that is of low quality needs to be addressed,” added Mukondo.