Community leaders are looking for a venue where children who have not found a place at school can go to be kept busy while they wait to be enrolled.
So far, they say, their efforts have been unsuccessful while the education department says they need to be told as a matter of urgency which children need to be placed in school.
Michelle Arendse, a community leader in Lavender Hill, said children need to be kept busy.
Although she did not want to estimate how many children she had seen roaming the streets, she said there were too many growing up without education and guidance.
She said there were many different reasons why children couldn’t get into a school.
These included not having birth certificates or being able to secure a space as schools were full.
Ms Arendse, whose community work includes volunteering at the Lavender Hill community hall for the City of Cape Town’s after school programme, is worried about the children who are getting left behind. “I cannot confirm that crime has escalated since there are so many children out of school, however, I can say that kids do get mischievous and do naughty things because they do not know right from wrong.”
She said a facility to help the children while they waited to be enrolled at school was much needed.
Janice Benjamin, also a community leader in Lavender Hill, mentioned a boy of school- going age who could not be enrolled as he needed to apply for a new birth certificate but his mother could not be found.
Abe Braaf, a Pelican Park community worker, said he had asked the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to inter- vene where children were not in school and consult with the community leaders to find a solu- tion.
Ms Braaf said he wrote an email to Education MEC Debbie Shäfer highlighting their concerns about children between the ages of seven and 15 in different areas who were not attending school.
“Some of the parents of these children gave various reasons as to why these children do not attend school. Some parents (said) unemployment, inadequate housing and poverty among others,” wrote Mr Braaf.
He said this led to problems in the communities as the children “get involved in petty crime, (develop) bad habits and mix with bad company”.
He added: “We are asking why your office, as indicated by the School’s Act 1996 Act no 84 Clause 6 (a) and (b) not charge these parents.”
Mr Braaf requested a meeting with the WCED and said they had drafted a list of proposals which they would like to present to their office. “We are willing to give our support and assistance to attend to the problems around education and schools in our communi ties.”
Mr Braaf said there were community leaders from Parkwood, Mitchell’s Plain, Delft, Lotus River, Lavender Hill, Ottery, Pelican Park, Schaapkraal and Strandfontein who would like to meet with Ms Shäfer, as a matter of urgency.
Mr Braaf received a response from Irene King, an administrator in the provincial education department, on Thursday March 23, which he forwarded to Southern Mail. It said the letter would be discussed at the next diary meeting with Ms Shäfer and they would provide feedback.
Jessica Shelver, spokesperson for Ms Shäfer, said they were concerned about claims that there were pupils who were not in school. “We request that Mr Braaf send us the alleged list urgently so that if, as he claims, these learners are out of school, we can intervene and place them as soon as possible.”
Southern Mail tried to get hold of Mr Braaf to ask him if he had a list of children who are out of school, but he could not be reached by the time this edition went to print.