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19 April 2021 – LRC statement on unplaced learners in the Western Cape

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19 April 2021

LRC statement on unplaced learners in the Western Cape

The Legal Resources Centre is gravely concerned about the increasingly high number of unplaced learners in schools in the Western Cape for the 2020 school year.

On 13 April 2021, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) released a statement indicating that the current number of unplaced learners in the province is at a shocking 4 188. On 14 April 2021, the WCED informed us that 3 786 learners remain unplaced. The WCED statement indicates that all the learners that gathered under the trees in Forest Village for learning have now been placed in schools, however, it fails to mention why it has taken this long to place these learners and what concrete plans have been made to place the remaining 3 786 learners in schools.

The WCED has stated that they are working hard to place the remaining learners in schools, however the LRC is concerned about the fact that these learners have missed a term – and counting – of learning. We therefore call on the WCED to put in place measures to ensure that these learners are placed in schools as a matter of urgency, and are given the opportunity to catch up with the work they have missed out on. For learners not yet placed, we call on the WCED to offer alternative solutions to these learners until they are placed in schools.
The WCED statement also mentions the “problem of underfunding” and calls on “various political leaders speaking about this issue to stand with us, and demand that education be prioritised by the National Treasury”, yet in March 2021, the WCED returned R350 million of its education budget which was not spent. The WCED should not blame high numbers of unplaced learners on the lack of necessary funding if the department has returned millions in unspent education funds. We welcome the Public Service Commission investigation into the issue of placement and funding constraints in all education departments nationwide.

Lastly, we call on the WCED to stop blaming migration from the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape for the increase in unplaced learners. The reasons why these learners apply for school admission in the Western Cape are irrelevant to the constitutional mandate of the WCED to provide access to education for all persons within its jurisdiction.

The LRC is in the process of writing a letter to the WCED in which we request their detailed plans on measures to reduce high numbers of unplaced learners in the province, and to ensure that the placement of these learners in schools does not result in overcrowding.

If your child has not yet been placed for the 2021 school year, please complete this form.

[ENDS]

Issued by the Legal Resources Centre

Media Enquiries:
Tel: 068 584 2442 / Email: thabo@lrc.org.za

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