And so it begins15 April , 2014
Oh my word, I am so tired! If I make it through today without a nap behind my table I deserve some sort of medal…preferably made of chocolate (and laced with coffee).
Today is the big day for enrolments for Grade R (I think this is for all Gauteng schools? But definitely for the school I picked). I have been stalking the chosen one for yeeeears. I’m not even exagerating. In the year that Nicola turned two I phoned them to ask if I could put her on a waiting list, and the teacher laughed and laughed…and laughed some more. I had to give her a few minutes to calm down before she could tell me no, not yet.
Since mid last year I have been religiously stalking their website for any news, and then in about May the site stopped updating (apparently their web developer has passed away without leaving behind the password so their website is now useless). From about February I have phoned them for news at least every two weeks or so. Last week Monday the forms became available (at bloody last) and I was their almost as soon as they opened the gates. So I knew, today was going to be the make or break day.
For those not familiar with the way it’s now done around here, let me explain. The department of education releases randomly a date (that date for this year now being today) on which all new enrolments for Grade R and Grade 1 can begin. No school is allowed to take enrolments before and on the day and thereafter the school has to allocate numbers to prospective students based on when their forms are recieved. There is usually an A list and a B list determined on the official feeder area of the school. Each school has their magic number of new entries that they will accept or have capacity for, and you will then make it to either the A-list, the A waiting list, or the B list depending on where you live/work and how quickly you got the form to them. By the end of May the school has to let everyone know if they made it or not, and those who didn’t make it will be allocated to other schools where they have capacity and you do not get a say in the matter after that.
If you get through all these hoops for Grade R, then you still have to go through it again for Grade 1…thereafter I’ve heard you can just renew, and you don’t have to join queues with stacks of paperwork at ungodly hours to get your kid educated anymore.
A yes…I forgot to mention the paperwork. For the first round (today) you have a one page document to complete, to which you must attach a proof of residence, a certified copy of your child’s birth certificate, copy of the immunisation card, and a letter from your employer on an official company letterhead. This is just to get that magical number on the list, your child isn’t actually enrolled yet. In November you get to do this again with the same paperwork (refereshed obviously) and fill in a 28 page enrollment form, also there are additional docs needed (of course). I think it might be easier to buy a house than to get your child in a school of your choice, If you’re missing even one document you get bumped to the B-list automatically.
So, you know…no pressure. 😉
Yesterday when I picked Nicola up from school she was having a little panic about big school, so I asked her if she wanted to go and have a look at it. When we drove past there where HUNDREDS of cars there and I thought to myself FUCK! All these people are already in the queue. So we rushed over to my folks, I wolfed down dinner and packed some overnight things for waiting in the queue and hightailed it back to the school. Luckily my panic was for nothing, because they were actually busy with a parent-teacher evening! I found a teacher smoking skelm behind the bleachers and he explained…after he laughed and laughed, and laughed some more of course. I must have been quite a sight with my camp chair, blanky, big flask and book to read. At least I got to sleep a few hours – cause on top of all this excitement I am actually feeling pretty shitty, so the beginnings of flu in a camping chair outside overnight wasn’t exactly my top choice for the evening.
I got up early (my oringinal plan) and was there by 05:00, and let me tell you I was not the first by a long shot! Apparently some people were there from just before midnight-ish. Even so, I felt like all was not lost and that I had a decent enough spot in the queue. I fell in line, and started making friends with the stangers around me.
Here are the people in front of me, all 30 of them…
Officially the whole thing only opened at 06:00. These are some of the people behind me. By the time I was done there were at least another 100 or so there. I ended up getting on so well with the guy behind me, that we exchanged numbers so that we could arrange a party for our next queue experience, and to share news if we got any. The woman in front of me was a bit stiff-upper-lip, so I didn’t chat too much with her though.
Ta-dah! 😀 This is what I got for my hour and a half in the queue. It’s a very slow moving queue. You get to the first check point and you first have to show them your street on a map…this gets you sorted into either the A queue or the B queue. Next check point is a document and certification check point, this gets you a nice red check mark on your form (or not, in which case you get to change queues). And then the last point is where you get the number and they write down your child’s name on the list and you have to sign.
Extremely competitive, isn’t it? And these are not private schools by the way – I believe with some of those you have to get on a waiting list as soon as you find out you’re pregnant just to get in. Is it just me, or do we not have enough good quality schools in JHB?
Oh well, all this standing around is good practice for voting day too. 7th of May is just around the corner, which will be my next big queue experience. *shrug*