The rush, only three months into the school year, has been attributed to parents’ determination to have their children taught at top public schools.
KwaZulu-Natal, and Western Cape and Eastern Cape, are accepting applications for 2015 now. Parents have until Friday to submit applications for Grades R, 1 and 8.
Education experts said that more work needs to be put into making the less popular schools more appealing to parents.
“I think former Model C and independent schools are generally better, but there are many fly-by-nights,” said education lobbyist Graeme Bloch.
“The issue is to be transparent and admit as many poor [pupils] as possible and address transformation, not hide behind clumsy bureaucracy.”
Applications for places at schools in Gauteng begin next month. Mpumalanga and Northern Cape will start accepting applications in May.
Governing Body Foundation CEO Tim Gordon said there was noshortage of schools – but good schools were scarce.
“The haste by parents is not necessarily for their children to be placed at former Model C schools. They want them placed in the best school they can reasonably access,” Gordon said.
Private schools were forced to reject hundreds of applications this year because of the high demand fort places in Grades R, 1 and 8.
Parents are advised to apply at least two or three years in advance at private schools. Some apply as soon as their child is born.
A Johannesburg father, who asked not to be named, said he started looking for a good school for his three-year-old daughter last year.
“It makes sense to start applying as soon as possible.
“More and more parents want their children to go to good schools,” he said.
Northern Cape education spokesman Sydney Stander said: “Our mandate is to place pupils in schools [the department thinks are] best for them, not their parents’ choices.”
Principals in Eastern Cape last week urged the provincial education department to reduce the pressure on top schools in Nelson Mandela Bay, which cannot cope with the demand for places.
The Governing Body Foundation’s Gordon suggested a coordinated effort by the education department, parents, pupils, communities, schools and school management to help solve demand imbalances.
“A lot of work needs to be put into improving the desirability of some of our less popular schools. It is a long-term strategy,” he said.