Western Cape Government: official handover of Delta Primary School

Debbie Schafer, MPP

Western Cape Minister of Education

Note: Below is an extract from Minister Debbie Schäfer’s speech to be delivered at the official handover of Delta Primary School

It is wonderful to be here today to celebrate with you the official handover of this beautiful new school building.

It is especially nice to be right next to what was, until May this year, my constituency, and to be with Cllr Rossouw once again, who works extremely hard in her ward, and is always full of energy.

I am also pleased to have the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education from the National Assembly with us today.  It is always good when we can celebrate a successful collaboration between the different spheres of government.

The ASIDI programme is one such successful collaboration, where funds are allocated by National government and administered by the provincial government to deliver these beautiful state of the art schools.

The programme is set to deliver 25 schools in the Western Cape in two phases, and is aimed at replacing schools that have been built with inappropriate materials.  We expect 11 of these schools to be completed by the end of this year.

It is an unfortunate fact of our apartheid history that many schools were built with inappropriate materials, without all the necessities of a good school, and we are very pleased to have some assistance from national government in eradicating these structures and building the kind of schools that our learners all deserve.

We would love to be able to deliver more schools even faster, but unfortunately we have to deal with inherited backlogs, upgrading and maintaining existing schools whilst also providing new schools for the growing population.

In addition, we have ever increasing pressures on our limited finances, and we are expecting severe cuts to our budgets in the next few months.  So let’s rejoice in the fact that this school has been finished before the budget cuts!

The Western Cape Government has replaced over 20 schools in the last few years and we are currently either building or in the planning stages of a further 33 schools – 25 of which are ASIDI funded schools.

No project of this nature ever comes into existence without the hard work of a great number of people, and I would like to acknowledge every person who contributed to the successful completion of this project.

Your hard work and efforts have all paid off in getting us to where we are today.

I have no doubt that this lovely new building is going to make it much nicer for both teachers and learners to come to school.

But why do we come to school?  Obviously to learn, not just to enjoy the lovely facilities.

It reminds me of the joke about the jelly bean – why did the jelly bean go to school?  To become a smartie!

And in order for us to learn we need a lot more than just a lovely building.

We need to have everyone on board doing their best in whatever role they have.  We need the principal to lead the school, and make sure that things happen the way they should.  We need the teachers to be at school in their classrooms with their lessons prepared.  We need the parents to make sure they bring their children to school on time, to make sure that they have done their homework and that they encourage them.  And then of course we need the children to come to school, do their homework and listen to their teachers!

If every person plays their part, we have great schools where a lot of learning takes place, and the learners are well prepared for a fantastic future.  Of course, if even one of these role-players does not play their part, the whole system does not work as it should.

I am very pleased to hear that there is a real sense of community at Delta Primary.  I cannot emphasise how important that is.  If communities are involved, it helps the learners, it helps the teachers, it helps the school, and it helps keep the school safe.

In the Western Cape government we would really like to see all our schools being used to the full, also after teaching hours, to provide opportunities for our youth in particular so that they stay away from the gang culture that is so problematic in our province.

It is also important that we all play our role in society, and in that regard I understand that in this respect also, this school is involved in the surrounding communities and helping those less fortunate.

Not only does the school work with the learners’ families that are in need but also raises funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, the Village Care Centre in Lavender Hill, Blisters for Bread, Santa’s Shoebox and other NGO’s.

This is commendable and I would like to thank the Mrs Jacobs, Mr John and the teachers for their commitment and dedication, not only to education but to bettering the lives of the learners and the surrounding communities.

In the Western Cape government we firmly believe in the whole of society approach – we cannot just teach and expect children to learn when they far too often have to face a whole lot of societal issues that no child should have to face.  It is only by addressing these that we can teach the child, so your support of initiatives that address these societal problems is very important.

To the parents and other members of the community, your support is vital. You are the ones to whom these young learners look for guidance and support.  They rely on you to show them what is right and wrong, and to help them deal with life’s challenges.  We have so many parents who are simply not acting like parents to their children, so to those here today, thank you for taking on your responsibilities.  Please do everything you can to encourage others to do the same.

And of course we must not forget the role of the governing body.  A governing body that is committed to working with the principal and staff to improve the school is invaluable.  A special thanks to the governing body of Delta Primary for your efforts in making today’s opening possible.

Just as we joined forces to build this wonderful school, we need you to join forces to protect our children and their right to a quality education, and ensure that they have the best possible start to their working lives.

Part of a quality education nowadays is access to computers and the internet.  We have recently signed a very important contract with Neotel to provide broadband access connecting our schools in the Western Cape within the next few years.  We are also working to connect the schools to the wide area network so they can access online content and use the many new tools available for teaching and learning in the modern world.  I am particularly pleased to see that you have internet connectivity and a computer laboratory.

Learners, you have a wonderful opportunity at this school. There are many other schools that don’t have computers, and such a lovely school.  Take advantage of the opportunities this new school building and your educators bring.

Use the computers, use the library, read as much as you can, because it is only by reading that you learn.

But also don’t forget to have FUN.  While working hard and passing is important, it is also important to participate in things other than schoolwork.  Playing sport and doing other extramural activities helps you to learn additional skills you need when you leave school and make your way in the world as adults.

Somebody in this school is doing very well at an extramural activity is Tashriq Martin.  I would like to congratulate him on making the Western Province Pool Team, and wish him all the best of luck for his pool tournament in Worcester this weekend.

As we are about to go into the school holidays, we unfortunately need to focus on vandalism that so often affects our schools.

I would hate to see this lovely new building fall victim to vandalism, and I would strongly urge everybody in the community to keep a look out and if you see anything suspicious, call the police.  Please also make sure that security measures are in place, and alarms activated.

I am very pleased to hear that there has not been a single break in or act of vandalism at the school since it opened its doors in April and I would very much like to keep it that way.

In education, we are all one big team, striving for the same goal for the future of our children.

It is indeed true that we are BETTER TOGETHER.  Thank you all for the roles you have played so far and I wish you all the best as you continue to work together to ensure that this school is a place of excellence and opportunity.

Thank you.