ADMISSIONS ONLINE APPLICATION
Gauteng Department of Education

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Prior to the development of the Admissions Online Application, parents were required to apply for admission of the children to schools by going from school to school to seek placement. This practice sometimes included parents having to wait in long queues before they could be assisted. It became common practice for parents to queue overnight at the most popular schools that are in high demand on the day before the commencement of the Admissions Period. When applying for admissions, applicants were required to complete a paper-based application form and submit required documentation to a school of their choice. The paper-based form of application for admission was not always transparent or fair as schools could select applications on the basis of the learner’s academic or sports record and/or the parents’ ability to afford school fees. Thus, the acceptance or denial of an application was not always done in compliance with the Admissions Criteria as per the Regulations on Admission to Public Schools, 2012 as amended. The Department, when monitoring Admissions during the admissions period discovered that many schools charged a registration fee which was prohibited in terms of the Regulations on Admission to Public Schools, 2012 as amended. Therefore, children of parents who could not afford to pay a registration fee were automatically excluded, leading to a number of claims of unfair discrimination from parents. It is imperative for the Department to have accurate admissions statistics as the number in order to make accurate resource provisioning for each learner that is admitted to a school. Accurate admissions statistics enables the department to provide the appropriate amount of educators, school furniture, text books, nutrition, scholar transportation and budgetary allocation. However, prior to the Admissions Online Application, the department relied on statistics provided by schools for record-keeping, reporting and resource planning purposes. The Admissions Online Application system was first piloted in 2014. This was in response to a request from the MEC to review and automate the school admission process. Through it, parents are able to apply for admission for children in their care to public ordinary schools online using an internet enabled computer or from a Smart Cellular Phone. The online application has obviated the need for parents to visit schools of their choice, and having to queue, in order to fill in paper-based forms. It allowed parents to apply from the comfort of their homes or offices. The App also allowed for transformation in that schools are not able to exclude applicants without applicants having an avenue for recourse.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
A centralised web-based admissions application which will enable parents to apply online for admission for children (Grade 1 and 8) in their care to Public Ordinary Schools or processing applications from a Smart Cellular Phone, thus allowing applicants to apply from the comfort of their homes or offices. Parents who do not have access to computers or internet at home or work may apply online at Admissions Help Desks established by the Department at schools, District offices, Libraries and community halls during the Admissions Application Period. An online Admissions Waiting List is created, ensuring that applications appear in a chronologically in order of application, and generating a Waiting List number indicating the date and time of application, thus preventing unfair treatment and discrimination.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
The main objectives of the Admissions Online Application are: • Creation of a centralised database for planning purpose • Monitoring admissions processes in the province • Eradicating long queues at schools during the application period • Enabling parents to access the services at ease • Placing in schools the learners who applied within the set timeframes • Allowing the department to plan and provide appropriate related resourcing to ensure that schools are ready on the first day of opening The Admissions Online Application is targeted at all children of school-going age in Gauteng, ensuring that no child is denied access to schooling. This includes South African citizens as well as non-South African citizens with legitimate documentation as obtained from the Department of Home Affairs. In addition, the Department is forming links with the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Social Development and Deaf and Blind SA to enhance services delivery to the citizens of Gauteng. Parents, guardians and caregivers are alerted to the benefits of the Admissions Online Application and provided with detailed information of the application process, included a step by step paper based manual and an online step by step video guide to making an application. The Admissions Online Application ensures that the Department has accurate information relating to admissions in a central repository to ensure the following: • Efficient and effective planning for optimal resourcing of public ordinary schools • Monitoring of admissions processes to expedite intervention and support • All applications are placed within the set timeframes • Timeous delivery of resources to ensure that Teaching and Learning commence on the first day of school of the new academic year Accurate data is available on the system in terms of expected learner enrolment in Public Ordinary Schools for the next academic year. This data enables the Department to achieve its educational mandate by identifying trends and planning for optimal delivery of its services and programmes, namely: • Creation of Infrastructure such as new school buildings, additional classrooms and adequate ablution facilities to comfortably accommodate all learners • Procurement and timeous delivery of adequate school furniture • Procurement and timeous delivery of appropriate Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) for curriculum delivery • Appointment of Human Resources such as educators and administrative staff in accordance with the number of learners and school capacity • Provision of scholar transportation for learner safety • Provision on school nutrition as supplementation to enhance learner health Parents and care-givers across South Africa are accessing the system nationally to apply for children that are relocating to the Gauteng Province from other Provinces. Parents use the School of Choice option to apply for admission of their child(ren) at any school of their choice. The poor and most vulnerable are protected in that they are not forced to pay registration or school fees upon application. All learners are allowed a fair opportunity to access any school as long as they meet the Admissions Criteria which is allows for learners to be placed at a school closest to his/her residential address, address of his/her parent’s work address or at a school where he/she has a sibling. Overall, the Online Admissions Application is proven to enhance business efficiency and service delivery to the community. It enables the Department to implement the Regulations on Admission to Public Schools, 2012 as amended fairly and equitably, streamline the application process, readily identify schools experiencing pressure, prevent confusion over multiple applications and draw statistical reports to plan effectively and efficiently for resource provisioning.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
For the first time in the history of school-based admissions, the registration, application and placement process is conducted online for all Grade 1 and Grade 8 applications in the Gauteng Province. The system consists of a Front–end that allows access to applicants to complete the entire admissions process from registration of new information and / or verification of existing learner and parent information to the selection of schools of choice and confirmation of offers of acceptance from schools. Identity numbers are verified as the Department has access to the data sets on the Department of Home Affair’s database. The entire process of registration, application and placement can be done by a parent from the comfort of the home. Parents will only visit schools to submit the required documents to schools within fourteen working days between 7:00 and 16:00. The Department has created a number of Help Desks to assist parents who do not have access to the internet with their applications at all the schools (2079 Primary and Secondary schools) in the Province, Libraries and community centres in townships and suburbs. The system eliminates discrimination as it operates on a first come first serve basis, providing a Waiting List number and creating a Waiting List without prejudice. Thus all learners who meet the Admissions Requirements in terms of the Regulations on Admission to Public Schools, 2012 as amended are allowed access to a school closest to their home or their parents’ work address. The District and Head Office have access to the Back-end of the system thus allowing constant monitoring to prevent manipulation. In addition, monitoring from the back-end of the system is ensuring up to the minute updates on applications allowing the department to track the progress of applications and public response. When slow progress is observed the Department is able to intervene through localised and national advocacy to raise awareness about the specific stages of the admissions process.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Admissions Online Application is implemented by the Gauteng Department of Education through the Public Ordinary Schools Directorate located within the School Management Chief Directorate. The sub-directorate managing admissions has five officials at provincial level and 1 official per district ( 15 districts) and 3 officials from the Information Systems and Information Technology Directorate where IT Developers are located. A total of 331 625 Grade 1 and 8 learners in 2081 Public Ordinary Schools in the Gauteng Province as well as learners in Grade 1 and 8 who have relocated from other Provinces and/or countries have benefitted from being placed at schools through the use of the admissions Online Application. The Online Admissions Application System introduced three different operating systems to broaden access for public usage: Mobile, Web-Based and Administration Applications. The Online Admissions Application has resulted in job creation, allowing a number of first time employees with an opportunity to gain experience in the job market and earn a salary to maintain families. • Through GCRA, a total of 117 interns have been contracted for a minimum period of two years at a variety of institutions across the including schools, fifteen district offices and the provincial Head Office • The Department allowed two young black men with remarkable IT acumen, recruited as interns from a private institution, the opportunity to create the Online Admissions Application System. These two young black interns became the main Developers of the Online Admissions Application System, resulting in their permanent appointment as Deputy Directors: IT at the Gauteng Department of Education where they are playing a major role in the management and constant improvement of the Admissions Online Application System. • The contracting of interns has provided an opportunity to gain work experience to 117 young people who have never had permanent positions of employment. Approximately 10% of these interns were subsequently appointed in permanent positions in the Department • Specific experience is gained by interns in computer operation, telephone etiquette, implementation of Batho Pele principles when engaging the public • In addition, the contracting of young men and women is feeding multiple families through its internship initiative
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The project to build an Admissions Online Application was conceptualised in 2009 and actualised as a pilot project in 2014. In 2015, a dual admissions approach, including paper-based and e-admissions was adopted. The first version of the Project Charter (Release 1) was developed according to the User Requirements defined by the Public Ordinary Schools Directorate, based on the Regulations on Admission to Public Schools, 2012 as amended and documented in the Project Charter (Release 1) (available on MyGDE). The Application, hosted at SITA was launched on 15 April 2015 and went live on 21 April, 2015. A dual application process was followed, allowing for admissions to be processed both manually and online. A centralised database of all admissions was constructed, enabling the admissions processes to be streamlined and allowing for schools that are in demand to be identified. Thousands of parents were able to use the Application and registered their children online in 2015 for admission in January, 2016. The success of the project prompted the Department to adopt the Admissions Online Application as a singular tool to process applications for the 2017 Academic Year. Therefore, Release 2, with a separate Project Charter (available on MyGDE) was constructed and implemented. After the 2016 Admissions Process for the 2017 learner intake, Project Charter (Release 3) which includes further enhancements to the original system was planned for the 2018 learner intake. Key to the success of the implantation process was a Training Programme aimed at adequately equipping district officials, school principals and admissions administrators to manage the Admissions Online application Process. These included live demonstrations of the functions of the Admissions Online Application. Credentials were created for all officials including principals and school staff involved in Admissions. In addition to Technical Training regarding the Admissions Online Application, the legislative prescripts including Regulations on Admission to Public Schools, 2012 as amended were mediated to ensure compliance. The training sessions were conducted by Head Office Officials responsible for Admissions, assisted by IT Developers. The Administration Application is used for administration at Schools, Districts and Head Office. Districts manage school operations and reporting while Head Office manages oversight of the implementation process. Head Office played an oversight role through monthly meetings with Provincial Admissions Coordinators and administrative staff based at the fifteen Districts in the Province. Guidance with regards to progress and was provided, while Challenges were mitigated at Admissions Coordinators Meetings. During the admissions Application period interns and district admissions staff were deployed at help desks while Districts occupied 57 Decentralised admissions venues to assist with the placement of late applications in January 2017. After the MEC pronounced the Admissions Period for 2017 on, the Communications Directorate enhanced advocacy to reach parents/applicants nationally, provincially and locally. The advocacy strategy was accelerated to indicate the beginning of each period and enhanced during the different Admissions periods. At the end of the 2016 Admissions Placement period, a stakeholder review sessions were conducted to for the purpose of improving the Admissions Online Application. The feedback from parents, SGB Associations, schools and districts were analysed. Based upon the lessons learned, the existing features were amended while a number of new features were added to the Admissions Online Application. While improvements were made throughout the implementation period, the most significant improvements will be effective in 2018. The cost of implementing Admissions Online Application (2017/18) is outlined in Table 1 below: TABLE 1: COST FOR IMPLANTING ADMISSIONS ONLINE APPLICATION 2017/18 ITEM COST Human Resources • Admin support (16) • Professional Official (20) R 8 448 180 monthly average salary for the 20 officials Interns 75 x R2500 = R187 500 Developers R 900 000 monthly average salary ICT Equipment • Laptops • 3G 75 x R8000 = R600 000 Data cost of 3Gs not confirmed SITA Hostings R120, 000 ESRI License R800 000 Costs of SMS R0,30 x 400 000 = R360, 000 Communication Strategy R3,300 000

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The Department provided two young black men with IT acumen, recruited as interns from a private institution, the opportunity to create the Online Admissions Application System. These two young black interns became the main Developers of the Admissions Online Application, resulting in their appointment as Deputy Directors: IT at the Gauteng Department of Education. They continue to play a major role in the management and constant improvement of the Admissions Online Application. In addition to the two main IT Developers, the Department recruited seven interns as IT Developers and 117 interns through GCRA from 2015 to 2017. The 117 interns were allocated to the 15 Districts and Head Office to assist parents with Admissions applications and queries over. The main drivers of the initiative were identified as Chief Directorates Corporate IT; Communications, School Management and Operations. The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) is acting as a host for the application, and a guarantor of Information Security. The identified business units established an Admissions ICT Steering Committee that holds weekly meetings attended by SITA, IT Developers and Head Office Admissions Personnel. In these meetings the approach, strategy and implementation were discussed, reviewed and developed. The department obtained its GIS license from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). In 2017, representatives from e-Government joined the Admissions Steering Committee meetings to monitor the success of the GDE and assess the replicability of the Admissions Online application in other government Departments. School Principals and administrative staff assist with online applications and placement. Districts monitor schools for compliance and Head Office personnel play an oversight role. The main stakeholders are parents who apply for admission of their children to Grade 1 and 8. Feedback from parents, SGB Associations, schools and districts are encouraged through review sessions and queries forwarded to the MEC’s Hotline, Help Desks and telephonically.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
• Statistical reports: Through the Admissions Online Application, the Department has managed to draw statistical reports of admissions application and placement progress. The Department was able to accelerate the advocacy campaign to raise awareness when applications and placements were slow. • Efficient and effective resource provisioning to facilitate effective teaching and learning in a conducive environment. Timeous access to admissions numbers at schools in high pressure areas enabled the Department to intervene with requisite resource provisioning to ensure effective teaching and learning at all schools. Additional educators, LTSM, class rooms and scholar transport were provided to accommodate increased learner numbers. • Employed Women and Girls. (SDG Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls) Over a period of three years, 117 young people who have never had permanent positions of employment were recruited as interns through GCRA for a minimum two year period. The interns were deployed at a variety of institutions in the province including schools, fifteen district offices and the provincial Head Office. Some of these interns were subsequently appointed in permanent positions in the Department of Education or at GCRA. The contracts of 105 interns were extended for a third year. 77 of the 195 interns are female and 28 are male. The contracting of young men and women is feeding multiple families through its internship initiative. In addition, the main drivers of the Admissions Online Application initiative are women at Top Management level identified in Chief Directorate Corporate IT; Chief Directorate Communications, Chief Directorate School Management and Chief Directorate Operations. • 331 625 Online applications. The online nature of the admissions applications has contributed significantly to a reduction in the use of paper. This is a positive contribution to conserve the environment for sustainability. By the end of November 2016, the majority of learners, 86.3%, were placed, thus indicating that the majority of learners at schools were placed with minimum use of paper. A total of over 30 000 parents per second could all connect to the system • Satisfied parents. The Department received a number of emails from satisfied parents expressing their gratitude to the Department for allowing them access to well-resourced schools in sought after areas.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacle with online application was the reluctance of parents to apply on time. This was coupled with resistance from parents to online applications. In January 2016, 19 537 late applications were received, 170 late applications came from other provinces while 41 came from other countries. A survey conducted by the GDE’s Communications Directorate revealed that most parents were simply used to applying in January and failed to heed the call to apply during the Admissions Period. To assist with the placement of these late applications, Districts established 57 decentralised admissions centres where learners were directed to schools with available space. Resistance to change was expressed in the actions of some principals who selectively rejected learners who met the Admissions Criteria to offer placement to learners selected on the basis of their academic or sporting records. The Department intervened to ensure that placement was effected in compliance with the legislative prescripts. The department also faced litigation from lawyers representing schools that were reluctant to transform and/or individual parents who insisted on being placed at their school of choice. This resulted in thorough investigations of allegations and detailed reports. In one instance the case of principals in one area was scrapped of the role by the judge. Dissatisfied parents were allowed to follow an appeal process. A number of parents misinterpreted the Registration Phase for the Application Phase. Further, parents refused to accept offers of placement made by schools, resulting in incomplete applications and unplaced learners. The Department held decentralized placement open days where parents were assisted. In addition, the APP has been amended to ensure that the Registration and Application process occur simultaneously.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The initiative impacted 331 625 learner lives in that this number of learners is successfully placed at schools in the Gauteng Province. Service delivery was significantly improved as more than 85% of the parents made their applications online and visited one school to submit the requisite documents for verification only. For the parents who could not find placement at their schools of choice, the Department arranged decentralized Admissions Placement Open Days over a six week period at schools in townships and suburbs in the fifteen Districts as follows: • 15 October 2016 - Sediwes Region at Laerskool Paardekraal, Generaal Smuts, High School and Laerskool Emfuleni Park • 22 October 2016 - Baweze Primary School, Laerskool Uniefees, Akardia Primary Schools and Thuto Thebe Teachers Centre • 29 October 2016 - Soweto College, Sandown High School, Bordeaux High School, Horizon View Primary School and Johannesburg South District Office • 5 November 2016 - Wordsworth High School, Mpontsheng Secondary School, Hoër Tegniese Skool Springs The Admissions Placement Open Days opened at 9:00 and closed at 16:00. District Officials, School Principals, administrative staff and interns manned the venues while Head Office played supported schools and districts and monitored attendance. A total of 1722 Learners were placed during the admissions placement Open Days. In addition to the Open Days, the MEC used his social media platform to publish messages directing applicants to Districts or schools for assistance with placement. The MEC received and responded directly to queries and encouraged a 24 hour turn-around time to resolve queries, thus enhancing the integrity of GDE and credibility of the Admissions Online Application. Localised advocacy was accelerated in townships through advertisements in Community Newspapers, pamphleteering and loud hailing in townships such as Soweto, Katlehong, Lodeyko, Horizon View, Ga-Rankuwa, and Enkangala, Alexandra and Ivory Park. The Admissions Online Application generated statistical reports to provide requisite information to ensure adequate resource provisioning in due time. As Additional learners were placed in schools, provision was made to accommodate the learners with additional 603 ICT classrooms to be delivered by April 2017, Text books, scholar transportation and school Furniture to schools in Sedibeng East, Johannesburg Central, Johannesburg North and Tshwane West Districts. In line with the Regulations on Admission to Public Schools, 2012 as amended, Non-South African citizens are accepted provisionally and allowed appropriate time to secure documentation. To ensure that all learners of school going age are attending school, the Department is establishing links with the Department of Social Development and the department of Home Affairs. Gender equality was promoted through the recruitment and deployment of interns at schools Districts and Head Office. The Majority of interns deployed are women.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The initiative was created in response to the GDE objectives of Pillar 6 as well as the Provincial Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation (TMR) strategy. Transformation in education is inextricably linked to the integrity and credibility of the public service sector. To maintain integrity and ensure sustainable credibility, the GDE has accelerated transformation and modernisation with the introduction of the Admissions Online Application. The admissions criteria, as per the Regulations on Admissions of Learners to Public Schools, 2012 as amended by General Notice 1160 of 2012 (Provincial Gazette 127 of 9 May 2012), provides that learners be placed at a school closest to the child’s residential address, the parents work address or where the child has a sibling. For Grade 8 learners, the learner’s previous school is also considered. The GDE is strictly enforcing these criteria to ensure that schools do not unfairly deny access to learners. Compliance is enforced through strict monitoring of Waiting Lists and ensuring that IDSO’S and Circuit Managers scrutinise all Waiting Lists before it is signed by District Directors and principals. The public is encouraged to report deviations from the Waiting Lists and alleged unfair discrimination by contacting the MEC of Education: Gauteng directly either telephonically or through his social media accounts. In addition, the GDE has made provision for a call centre and a Hotline. Email and cell phone addresses of Admissions Personnel are available on the GDE and DBE Website. All queries and allegations are investigated and the GDE intervenes to ensure that learners are placed in compliance with legislative prescripts. After analysis of Waiting Lists revealed unfair practice reported by the public, at least three schools, namely Rivonia Primary School, Danie Malan Primary School and Park Rand Primary School, were instructed to place learners in accordance with legislative prescripts. In Montana in Tshwane North, Hoërskool Montana and Hoërskool Overkruin instituted legal action against the department for instructing the schools to accept learners that were unfairly denied access to the schools. The cased was scrapped off the roll after the judge heard the GDE’s testimony. Through its actions in the cases cited above, and many others, the GDE has proven its commitment to stamp out corruption and maintain the integrity of the government.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The Online Admissions Application System has not only resulted in job creation for young people, but the main drivers of the initiative within the GDE are women. Two Chief Directors, Chief Directorate: School Management and Chief Directorate: Information Technology, selected as Chairpersons of the Admissions ICT meetings are female, while the Director: Public Ordinary Schools who is the project Manager of Admissions is also female. In addition, the SITA partnership with GDE involves a number of female partners. These women have played vital roles in ensuring that the initiative was driven from the conception stage to actualization. The Online Admissions Application System has resulted in job creation, allowing a number of first time employees with an opportunity to gain experience in the job market and earn a salary to maintain families. • Through GCRA, a total of 117 interns have been contracted for a minimum period of two years at a variety of institutions across the including schools, fifteen district offices and the provincial Head Office. • The contracts of 105 interns have been extended until 2018. 77 of these interns are female. 4 Female interns are working with the Software Development Team. Approximately 10% of the interns were subsequently appointed in permanent positions in the Gauteng Department of Education and/or GCRA

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Gauteng Department of Education
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   David Makhado
Title:   Education Research and Knowledge Management  
Telephone/ Fax:   0113550560
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   david.makhado@gauteng.gov.za  
Address:   No. 6 Hollard Street ,Marshalltown
Postal Code:   2001
City:   Johannesburg
State/Province:   Gauteng
Country:  

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