Stampede for Form 1 places

The Chronicle

Lumbidzani Dima, Chronicle Reporter
COMMOTION and long queues were the order of the day at secondary schools in Bulawayo yesterday as parents rushed to secure Form One places for their children.

This follows release of 2021 Grade Seven examination results on Friday, which parents started collecting on Monday.

Although the first term calendar began this week for the rest of the classes, Form Ones will commence learning next week Monday after securing places.

The delay in the release of results was occasioned by a Covid-19 shift in the school calendar in the third term of 2021, which saw the marking process spilling into January.

A Chronicle news crew conducted a snap survey yesterday morning, which revealed that most secondary schools were inundated with demand for Form One places.

There was commotion at the entrance of several high-performing centres such Mpopoma, St Columba’s and Sizane High schools, while other schools also had large numbers.

The security guards had a torrid time trying to control crowds as parents sought to be served first and were told to join the queue.

At Sizane, school authorities were ushering in parents based on the number of units passes per candidate starting with the best performers.

However, parents complained that the process was slow and suggested that an online registration system was the best.

There was a long queue at Mpopoma where boxes were stationed at the main gate and parents would depose their application letters.

They were required to provide a copy of results, birth certificates and ED12 forms. A long queue was also seen at St Columba’s in Makokoba.

Those parents/guardians wishing to send their children to boarding schools were advised to upload their children’s results on the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s electronic

In separate interviews, parents expressed frustration over the pressure involved when applying for Form One places and complained that the procedures demanded by schools were cumbersome.

Mr Bhekifa Ndlovu, a parent who was at Sizane, said day schools must introduce an online application system so as to reduce the burden on applicants who are forced to spend many hours without being served.

“Trying to secure a place is very stressful, the errands are just too much and you have to leave everything or take off days from work moving from one school to another dropping application forms,” he said.

“We came to Sizane at around 7AM and the process is dragging but because we need the place, we are patient even if we are not sure whether we will get the places or not.

“Only if they could just tell us their cut off points it would be better, but right now they said just wait here, we are starting from six units we will tell you when we have reached our enrolment limit.”

The parents complained that the Government has given them limited time to secure places and that preparation time for other logistics was shorter.

“The challenge is that if I fail to secure the place today (Tuesday) up to Thursday, I’ll be left with Friday to get the place and buy all school requirements because my child is expected at school on Monday,” said the parent.

“Only if the Government would have mercy, and introduce a system like that of boarding schools, whereby application is done online, things would be better. We will be able to apply at more than five schools in one day.”

Ms Sidumisile Ncube, who was at Mpopoma, said as parents they have always been ready but were delayed by the release of results.

“All we need now are the places but the levels of intelligence vary.

Every parent wishes that their child gets a place at a proper school but the time for doing that is very limited,” she said.

“If your child got average marks, which can qualify in these good schools you keep on hoping and waiting because you are not sure if the cut off will accommodate them or not.”

Mrs Chantal Chinaka said it was difficult to prepare for Form One enrolment within a week as parents have to move around different schools.

“One week won’t be enough. I think there are some learners who will still be applying even next week when they are expected to be in class.

Honestly, they are putting us under serious pressure,” she said.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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