Schools in South Africa’s inland provinces reopen as parents complain of lack of spots

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 01: Desks and chairs ready for grade 12 peoples seen at Horskool Jan van Riebeeck, a Afrikaans highschool on June 01, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. Western Cape schools opened for grade 7 and grade 12 learners for the first time since lockdown started at the end of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
Desks and chairs ready for grade 12 pupils are seen at Horskool Jan van Riebeeck, a Afrikaans highschool in Cape Town, South Africa on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Nardus Engelbrecht/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Schools in the landlocked South African provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and Free State welcomed learners back to the classroom on Wednesday, while schools in the coastal provinces of Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are set to open next week. 

The resumption of lessons comes as some parents complain that they have been unable to secure classroom spots for their children.

Education ministry officials say that, while the majority of eligible learners have been placed in schools, they were encountering difficulties finding spots for some children in some areas. 

Parents whose children have not been placed in schools near the administrative capital Pretoria have threatened to stop lessons from going forward until the issue is resolved, according to local media reports. 

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said provinces would not be abandoned to overcome the challenge on their own but insisted that the national government remains “compelled to find a place for every child” and would do everything in their power to do so. 

South Africa, like many countries throughout the continent, has faced repeated cycles of school disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with varying rates of internet connectivity making it difficult to rely on remote learning strategies for many regions. 

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