Andile Tshuma Bulawayo Bureau
OVER 70 000 prospective Form One pupils are likely to be left stranded after 100 000 applied for boarding places, yet only 24 000 places are available.
In a statement, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema said pupils who will not make it into boarding schools must accept it and be enrolled into day schools in their communities.
“The nation has 24 000 boarding places. We estimate that about 100 000 learners are seeking boarding places. Those who will not be successful in securing boarding places will, therefore, be accommodated at day schools in their school zones,” he said.
Some parents said they found the process of securing places confusing as they are yet to get used to the e-application system. Others said the online application was elitist as it left out brilliant pupils from rural schools, and pupils with computer-illiterate parents.
“Some deserving pupils are in rural areas and can afford boarding school fees, but stay with parents or relatives who are not tech savvy and may be unable to go through the cumbersome application process. Some children may not have access to the internet due to their location, especially in rural communities. Government must make provision to make this application system fair and equal for all prospective Form Ones,” said Mrs Concillia Ndlovu from Njube suburb.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Bulawayo provincial education director Mrs Olicah Khaira said securing Form One places had become a challenge and urged parents to desist from double booking Form One places at different schools.
Government came up with an electronic application system for Form One boarding places in 2017 as part of a raft of measures to fight corruption that for a long time saw many intelligent children from disadvantaged backgrounds being sidelined.
For the application process, parents are required to complete an electronic form specifying five schools of their choice.
The form would then be forwarded to the relevant schools and parents would get feedback via an SMS on the outcome of their application by December 19.