By Andile Tshuma
OVER 70 000 pupils seeking boarding places for Form One next year are unlikely to secure them as the schools can accommodate only 24 000 children.
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 enrol into schools within their zones.
“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.
The headache for securing Form One places steadily grows in the country soon after the release of Grade Seven results and in the last few weeks of the year.
Some parents told Chronicle that they found this year confusing, just like the last, as they are yet to get used to the e-application system.
Others said the online application system 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 provisions 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 had seen many intelligent children from disadvantaged backgrounds being side-lined by some schools in the country.
For the application process, parents are required to complete an electronic form specifying three 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. The Chronicle