By Nqobile Tshili
Schools in Bulawayo were yesterday overwhelmed by parents and guardians seeking Form One places for their children following the release of Grade Seven results last week.
Some of the schools were however, turning away prospective pupils saying Government had not yet given them the green light to enrol Form One pupils.
Pupils and parents being assisted by a security guard at St Columba’s High in Makokoba suburb
Government has however, announced that both boarding and day schools can start enrolling Forn One pupils.
The online application for boarding schools was opened on Tuesday and day schools also started enrolling on the same day but have been ordered to strictly observe the Covid-19 health protocols to avoid exposing applicants and staff to the pandemic.
Many parents and guardians were gathered at different day schools in the city yesterday seeking places for their children.
Government is yet to announce the schools opening date after the spike in Covid-19 cases last month forced it to defer the opening of schools that was set for 4 January.
Primary and Secondary Education Ministry’s public relations officer Mr Patrick Zumbo said both boarding and day schools started enrolling Form One pupils on Tuesday.
“The enrolment started yesterday at all the secondary schools. Those seeking boarding places have to apply online while authorities at day schools have been asked to strictly observe health protocols to protect both applicants and staff from Covid-19. All the heads of schools are aware that enrolment is underway and we are happy that the process is going on well. Parents seeking boarding places should apply online and they should be mindful that we have limited boarding places,” said Mr Zumbo.
Pupils queue to collect forms at St Bernard’s High in Pumula suburb
He said there are only 264 boarding schools in the country which means the places are limited.
Enrolment at a number of day schools was in full swing in the city yesterday except for a few where authorities were saying they were waiting for a go-ahead from Government.
At Mpopoma High School parents and guardians were made to submit photocopies of Grade Seven results slips and copies of ED12 forms with details about the pupils and their parents or guardians.
This was a departure from the past when the school authorities would attend to pupils seeking places and advise on the same day whether or not one got the place.
Parents who spoke to the news crew said the school authorities told them that after submitting their particulars, the pupils will be advised on Monday whether or not they got the place.
Ms Melody Samanyanga from Entumbane suburb said Mpopoma High School was her first choice for her child.
“My hope is that my child will be enrolled at this school which is my first choice for many reasons. The school produces good results, pupils are discplined and its close to Entumbane where we stay.
We have been asked to submit our children’s papers and the authorities said names of successful applicants will be posted on the notice board on Monday next week,” said Ms Samanyanga.
Ms Nomalanga Sibanda, who was accompanying her younger sister, said restricting interaction at schools was good as it reduces exposure to Covid-19.
There were scores of parents/guardians gathered outside St Bernard’s High School in Old Pumula which was also enrolling Form One pupils.
The school authorities said they were giving preference to pupils who did exceptionally well in the Grade Seven public examination.
Those who were enrolled first obtained between five and 12 units.
At one point the school authorities were forced to call the police to maintain order as parents and guardians were causing commotion at the gate.
Some parents said they were being frustrated by school authorities that were shutting them out at a number of schools.
Ms Pretty Nkomo from Pumula East said she had gone to two schools but had not found any joy.
“I went to Sizane High School and Magwegwe High School before coming here and both schools had said they had not started enrolling. Even here we are just waiting because we don’t know whether my child will be accepted or not.
They are not telling us who qualifies to be enrolled, so we are just waiting hoping that our children will get the places,” said Ms Nkomo.
Another parent, Ms Nobukhosi Nyathi said day schools were also supposed to also allow pupils to apply for places online given the risk of exposure to Covid-19.
Some parents accused authorities at St Bernard’s High School of demanding proof of employment from parents and guardians, but the authorities have since denied the allegations.
St Columba’s High School in Makokoba suburb had not started enrolling Form Ones saying it was waiting for a go-ahead from the Government.
A security guard at the school was turning away parents and guardians seeking places. The Chronicle