By Kudzai Chikiwa
The online application for Form One boarding school places is closing on December 21, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has said.
The Electronic Ministry Application Platform (EMAP) introduced in December 2016 to lessen the burden on parents who previously drove to boarding schools to submit application forms was opened mid November for this year’s applications.
The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Edgar Moyo said parents who are facing challenges in applying online should approach their nearest schools or online experts for help before the application closes.
“The system is still in place and parents should make use of it. There are reports of parents who are failing to access the system, we are urging them to consult knowledgeable people even in internet cafes before the application closes,” he said.
Moyo said those who fail to secure places by the closing day will be assisted accordingly in due course.
“As of Monday last week, 21 000 applications had been made and l am sure the number increased when the Grade 7 results were released,” he said.
Some parents fear that they may fail to secure places for their children as they are struggling to register online due to technical errors, poor internet connectivity and computer illiteracy.
In separate interviews with The Chronicle, some parents said they have been trying to log onto the server to submit their applications but the system is too low.
“I think the system is congested that’s why it’s very low. I have been sitting on the computer for three hours trying to apply to no avail. The date of birth on the result slip is incorrect and I have been trying to put the correct information. However, the system keeps on telling me that it’s incorrect information,” said Mrs Margret Moyo
Another parent Mr George Lungu who stays in Filabusi said the online application sytem is not accessible for parents in the rural areas as they have poor or no internet connection.
“Using a mobile phone to access the server is inconvenient and one has to go to an internet café. Where do we find internet cafes in the rural areas? At the end of the day we make a loss through buying data bundles which end up not working and we are forced to drive to town where there is internet. Some children are left under the custody of their grandparents who are used to physical applications,” he said.
Parents also suggested that boarding schools should attach their school fees with the list because they are getting places from expensive schools.
“I got a place from a school but their school fees are too much. At least they should show us school fees so that we make an informed decision because it’s helpless to apply for a place at a school l can’t afford.
When you try to delete your application and reapply, the system does not allow,” said Mrs Sibusisiwe Sibanda.
Schools authorities said after a delay in response, many parents panic and drive to schools to confirm if their children got places.
“Boarding school places are on demand and parents cannot wait to confirm if their children got places. They end up coming here, some of them insulting school authorities for denying their children places. I think they need more education on this issue because they incur unnecessary losses driving here. The system sometimes is low since our internet connection is not perfect,” said a school official.
A majority of boarding schools countrywide are overwhelmed by online applications from pupils seeking Form One places for next year.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Tumisang Thabela recently said some pupils may fail to get admission at schools of their choice due to the huge number of applications.
She urged parents and pupils to be ready to settle for second options. The Chronicle