Parents trying to enrol their children for admission to Gauteng government schools next year are markedly less anxious after the education department removed a glitch on its online system.
The online applications were opened at 8am on Thursday but the one-time password (OTP) feature caused frustration and delays for early applicants.
MEC Panyaza Lesufi acted swiftly on the complaints, suspending the OTP feature.
“There was a delay in address validation, due to high volumes of applications. Please note the OTP was introduced as an added security feature, and unfortunately we experienced challenges and that feature was overwritten, so is cancelled. No OTP,” he said.
“We sincerely apologise to parents who were inconvenienced in the first hour of opening the system,” Lesufi said.
The department said that around 10.15am, about 68,000 successful applications were recorded on their system.
Several parents confirmed they had been able to apply for their children once the feature was dropped.
Ramoroaswi Ngake, who has a child going into grade 8, said: “Initially the process was frustrating and had a lot of glitches but I finally finished the application after about 45 minutes.
“However, when I applied for my sister, they had removed the OTP function and the system was seamless.
“The only other challenge was that my home address feeder zone was Afrikaans-only schools which then puts me at a disadvantage as I had to apply for schools within 30km as opposed to 2.5km.”
Dr Nimmi Seoraj said discrepancies on the GPS function was her biggest issue.
“The process went much smoother when there was no OTP required. But there were lots of discrepancies between the feeder zones, some schools close to my house did not appear while others further from my area were picked up. Last year I didn’t experience problems with school choices.”
Despite this, she endorsed the online application process.
“As time goes they will get better, this system is the way forward, I applaud the department for going online. The benefit outweighs the cost.” Seoraj said.
Among the early applicants, Gavin Kennedy, a parent of a grade 7 pupil, said of the system: “Every year it’s terrible with new obstacles but this year was quite special. We got a whole lot of errors. Everyone got stuck on step 1 for an OTP. It took me an hour-and-a-half to finally finish the process.
“Getting your child to school is an important decision, education is a big deal and using a faulty system is not helping at all. We have thousands of parents sitting behind their computer in a queue; the truth is we are fighting for the same schools.”
Lerato Diale, whose child is going to grade 1, said she had to change electronic devices during the application process. “I was doing it on my phone but it seems to work better on the laptop. I have been trying this since it opened, so I hope I will get a place for my child. It’s so frustrating because at some point I ran out of data trying to get in. I just want my child to be placed, this headache is too much.”
Andre Beetge, a parent of a grade 7 pupil, also experienced a problem with the password feature.
“The first hour was very frustrating, we first got held up with the OTP. The OTP would then come and the box to fill it will disappear. You would then have to re-click the button that sends a new OTP and you have to wait for it. My wife and I were stuck on the OTP issue, we then tried another PC and the OTP option was removed and we could register,” Beetge said.
The online applications process will be available until July 25.