Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL

The Centre for Child Law says better planning by the Gauteng education department could have prevented the current backlog in schools‚ which has left more than 30‚000 pupils unplaced at the start of the academic year.

In the past, the province had failed to plan properly to predict pupil numbers and calculate how many of them provincial schools could cater for‚ according to research done by the centre.

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Tuesday that about 33‚000 pupils had not yet received places in schools.

The centre‚ based in Pretoria‚ did detailed research in 2016 which indicated that the Gauteng education department had failed to do accurate modelling to predict pupil numbers.

It also said there were no transparent figures on hand for the number of places available in Gauteng schools. This had not changed since their report, titled Budgets and Bricks, was first released in 2016.

By the centre’s calculations‚ the actual number of places in Gauteng schools could be anything between 1.4-million and 1.8-million.

The centre said in a statement: "The report Budget and Bricks found that without information on the number of actual school places and proper projection of trends in learner numbers‚ no proper planning and provision of infrastructure could occur. This, therefore, results in continued late placements that‚ in most cases‚ results in overcrowded classrooms."

Suggested solutions by the centre included updating a database to accurately reflect how many pupils each school in the province could accommodate.

The centre also suggested using updated figures from Statistics SA to take into account migration data that reflected how many people came into the province. It said that planners could also learn from past trends of pupil numbers to better predict how many pupils there would be.

"Using correct modelling and statistics would ensure better planning was carried out‚" it said.

The centre praised the Gauteng government for building 48 schools since 2004 and trying to turn single-language schools into dual-medium schools to accommodate more pupils.