The department reported that 35 865 parents did not submit their children’s application documents to schools before the closing date.
It plans to assist parents, through its online system, which will open for late applications from 1 November 2017 to 10 November 2017.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says only 222 378 learners, or 77%, have been placed to date. The figure includes 123 450 Grade 1 learners and 98 928 Grade 8 pupils.
According to Unesco, 263 million children and youth worldwide do not attend school. This is inclusive of 61 million children of primary school age, 60 million of lower secondary school age and 142 million who should be attending senior secondary school.
Some 402 schools have already got pending waiting lists and will not be accepting late applications
Lesufi says many local schools are full and cannot accept more learners.
There are only 2 017 public ordinary schools that offer Grades 1 and 8, of which 402 will not be available for parents to submit late applications.
It is important for parents to understand the importance of early applications, as it enables planning for the academic year to come. The aim is for schools to start learning and teaching in January 2018.
The department is appealing to parents who have not yet submitted applications to do so urgently and applicants who have been given offers of placement to respond to or forfeit such offers.