Western Cape Government: End of 2014 school year

Minister Debbie Schafer

Western Cape Minister of Education

Note: the following statement includes Minister Schäfer’s highlights over the last six months, what to look forward to in 2015, security measures at schools over the holiday period, as well as holiday programmes for learners.

Today brings to a close the 2014 school year.

As the new Provincial Minister of Education, my first six months in office have been productive and exciting.

Highlights from my first six months in office include:

  • Announcing an unprecedented increase of 676 new teaching posts in the Western Cape. The additional  teaching posts for schools in 2015 is a testimony to how good management and planning can be applied to ensure that we achieve our overarching objective of providing a quality education to all the learners of the Western Cape, and a pleasant teaching environment for our teachers;
  • Celebrating excellence in teaching and honouring some of the outstanding educators who inspire and motivate our children every day at the fifteenth Annual Teaching Awards;
  • Launching the School Admissions Management Information (SAMI) which has and will assist the department, schools and parents in placing learners more effectively;
  • Launching the NGO database;
  • Launching the E catalogue inviting people with educational programmes to register so we can make available educational materials for our teachers and learners; and
  • Announcing that the 2014 NSC award criteria will include some new award categories that are in line with our strategic vision for the next five year period, categories that promote technical and IT skills.

I am looking forward to the many ‘first’ exciting and nerve-wracking experiences in 2015 that a new Minister can expect, such as my first release of matric results, the release of the systemic test results and the NSC Awards at the Premier’s residence in January.

Another important event that is taking place in 2015 is the national School Governing Body (SGB) elections. School Governing Bodies are essential partners in the combined effort in delivering quality education to the children of this province and it is therefore important that the WCED, as well as school communities, prepare well for the upcoming SGB elections, which are expected to take place in March 2015.

Parents, especially those with skills in financial management and law, should now start to consider making themselves available for their respective bodies if they feel they can contribute positively to their school.

In 2015, the WCED is committed to expanding e-learning and e-teaching as soon as possible and I am also looking forward to announcing a number of new exciting initiatives that the Western Cape Government have been working on to make education better, together in the Province.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all learners, educators, school administration staff, officials and their families a very happy, safe and well-deserved holiday.

I would also like to appeal to communities to be aware that the schools in their communities are vulnerable to burglary and vandalism during the holidays.

We remind all schools that have alarm systems to test their systems to ensure that they are in working order before they shut their schools.

In order to protect our schools, as far as possible, from burglary and vandalism over the holiday period, the WCED’s Safe Schools directorate has arranged increased security at some of our high risk identified schools.

448 schools will receive either overnight security or 24 hour security.

Schools are safest where local communities play an active role in helping to look after schools.

We also ask every community member to help their schools by participating in neighbourhood watches and reporting any suspicious behaviour in and around our schools immediately to the police.

The WCED Safe Schools has organised a holiday programme for all learners which will be launched on 11th December 2014 across all eight education districts in the Province.

Once again, a number of stakeholders have come on board to assist us with the various educational and fun activities. The programme includes various government departments, the City of Cape Town, Metro Police, SAPS, WECTAC; Help to Care SA, Imvume Yethu Trading CC, Working Ladies, African Skye, Pivotal and Catiza.

Educational Programmes on offer will cover important topics such as substance abuse, HIV/Aids, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy seminars, workshops on conflict and drug abuse, peer pressure, leadership and communications courses, as well as debating and reading sessions. Fun and physical activities include swimming, indigenous games, dog shows, boat trips, soccer and rugby tournaments.

In 2015, teaching and learning will take place for 197 days – with the first school term beginning on the 21st of January and the last school day on the 9th of December 2015. Learners are expected to be at school for the full 197 days in accordance with the National Learner Attendance Policy, while educators are to be at school for 201 days of the year.

I would like to urge all parents who are travelling over the holiday period to ensure that their children are back in time and present on the first day of the school year.

In preparation for the new school year, we urge parents to note the following:

  • To consider uniform and stationery expenses for the 2015 school year.
  • Parents should buy return tickets in December for trips to areas far away from Cape Town. Learners are required to be at school on the first day of the school year.
  • Parents must plan ahead to pay school fees at schools that charge fees unless they intend applying for fee exemption.

In closing, I would like to wish all our educators, learners and staff a happy and safe holiday. Thank you for your support and dedication.

I look forward to what we can achieve in education 2015. I certainly look forward to my “first day of school” as Minister of Education on 21 January 2015.