Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said that by 9.10am, the system had recorded a total of 25 652 applications.

“We are quite excited that parents have listened to our call to register online,” Lesufi told reporters in Orange Farm, south of Joburg.

Lesufi and Gauteng Premier David Makhura officially launched the application process in the area and assisted parents who had gathered at the Orange Farm Multipurpose Centre, one of at least 65 walk-in centres set up across the province to assist parents.

Lesufi said that within 20 minutes of the site going live, it had successfully registered 16 000 applications.

“It’s not as huge a number as we wanted – we are ready for a massive surge, so we still have to persuade other people to apply. We wanted a huge volume,” Lesufi said.

He said parents may have decided not to rush to apply because the site had crashed on its first day in 2016.

“Maybe they wanted to be sure that it wasn’t crashing. But we assure them that it’s not crashing – it is working; it is functional.”

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He said that in 2016 his team had been nervous because of some glitches that were creating problems for parents wanting to apply.

They had made sure that this time around, the site could handle as many as 150 000 log-ins.

“We wanted 150 000 users within the first minutes, so our capacity is still broad,” Lesufi said.

“We want everyone to use their computers and walk into our centres for assistance. Naturally, there will be glitches here and there.

“We are asking people to be patient when they find glitches, but generally, to have reached 16 000 applications within the first 20 minutes is a huge success.”

Lesufi officially launched the online application system in 2016 despite resistance and criticism from parents and some schools in the province.

The applications site crashed within hours of going live.

Lesufi said at the time, the servers could only handle 600 users per second. Vodacom was subsequently approached and agreed to upgrade the servers to accommodate 20 000 users.

Despite continued resistance from some quarters, Lesufi on Tuesday said the process was an important one, as it would help the department refine its budget and planning for the upcoming year based on the number of applications it captured.

“Out of this process, you will know how many teachers you want to hire, how many schools you need to build, how many textbooks you need to buy and how much school furniture you need to buy, so numbers are very important.”

Makhura said it was important for parents to understand that for schools to ensure a smooth academic year, all the planning needed to happen well in advance.

“By mid-year, we want to know how many learners we have to accommodate at our schools in 2018.

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“We hope and pray that with all the technical backup we have, there will be very few glitches.”

Part of doing things on time meant parents could have peace of mind, knowing that they had their first choice of schools, Makhura added.

“The choice of school is a very important issue for parents. A parent may know where the closest school is, but it may be full if they come too late to the process. Doing it early gives parents the opportunity to choose schools they prefer,” Makhura said.

He said it would be regrettable for the department to decide where children would ultimately go to school.

“We don’t want the authorities to impose the choice on parents. If everything is done early, we’ll be able to meet the needs of the parents.”

By 9.50am, there had been 32 989 successful applications.

– News24 Wire