First person to guess the singer of the title song gets the prize.
So if you were like me –> had a baby in 2010 and have opted for government schooling… you would have been privy to the rather stressful task of getting your child registered on the new government portal for online applications for admission to schools. I won’t lie, I was there. Virtually toyi-toying with my comrades, baying for MEC Lesufi’s blood all over social media. It was a blood bath of epic proportions as disgruntled parents and guardians took to social media to lambaste the Minister on his terrible mistake to roll out this new system. Yes, I was one of them. I even tweeted the Minister directly, I was MAD, people. MAD. I had wasted a whole day’s work waiting for this website to work. There we were, like the Israelites who had the Promised Land in front of them, but instead wanted to go back to the Egypt of standing in a queue to enroll our children into a school. Cussing out the poor Minister and his team.
Then the website worked, albeit 7.5 hours after the original kickoff time. But it worked.
And then there was relative silence. No apologies. No congratulations. Just silence. And I felt bad for the Minister. This is theoretically, a huge step for the admissions process in Gauteng. And trust me, I was one of the parents who queued last year, so I know what I’m talking about. This process is the future. Last year, there was lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth as parents queued overnight at schools to ensure their children qualified for a place at the school. We were outraged that we had to line up to get our children an education which they deserved, just by birthright. The whole first come, first serve basis was totally unrealistic, people who were not zoned were also getting into schools before those who lived next door to the school. It was all a bit of a shambles, if we are to be honest.
So yes, I applied online. I then went leisurely to my first school of choice and collected the application forms and this morning returned them with all the necessary supporting documents. It was a civilised, dignified process. It is the way of the future.
Some of the questions which came out of this process:
- How are poor, computer-illiterate people going to apply online? Answer: libraries and DoE offices remain open to assist people with this process. Schools, themselves, are also availing their computer facilities to help. Also, you’d be alarmed at the ever growing number of SA residents (LSM 5 and below) who have smart phones. You can apply on your smart phone.
- The website is pre-assigning me to schools I don’t want to go to. Answer: this has always been the case, people. You can only apply to schools in the zone in which you live or work. Nothing new there. While there were technical glitches with the mapping on the site, when that was resolved you HAD to apply to those schools based on the address you plugged in.
- The website keeps crashing. Answer: what we all failed to realise is that the website or the process does not work on a first come, first serve basis. Yes, your application was time stamped but that did not necessarily place you ahead of anyone else in the virtual queue. The website crashed because the whole of Gauteng wanted to go online and register/apply at the SAME time. When that mad dash was over, the website worked perfectly. While it is not advisable to do so, you could actually wait until 1 June and apply for your child and if you are zoned and meet all the requirements for that school, you have as good a chance of being accepted, as the child who applied with the mad rush on the 19th April. Again, NOT advisable but just trying to prove a point.
Look, I don’t know what happens on the back end now. Like I said to a friend, this is Africa so trying all these first world processes does leave one feeling skeptical and unsure. But what I do know is that my child’s application has been submitted in a simple and stress-free way. Whether she is accepted or not is up to the Heavens 🙂 but I live in hope!
I feel somewhat ostentatious about the whole thing: we are the Grade 1 class of 2017 who have pioneered the brand new online system for the Department of Education, the first of it’s kind in South Africa! That’s something, isn’t it?!
For what it’s worth, I applaud MEC Lesufi and his team and I apologise for the original hate. With everything else that is going on in South Africa, mostly negative, let’s shout about our small successes too.
South Africa, we live in hope!