Western Cape Schools prepared and ready for 2015 academic year

Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer

Western Cape Minister of Education

On Wednesday 21st January 2015, more than one million learners will return to school across the province for the 2015 academic year, and for many learners in Grade R and Grade 1, this will be their first time in “big school”.

I am pleased to announce that schools and officials are prepared, as far as possible, for the 2015 academic year. Most of the preparations were completed well before the end of last year.

I am also pleased to announce that the following 4 schools will be opening their doors to learners in the Western Cape for the first time on Wednesday:

  • Bottelary Primary School in Stellenbosch
  • Protea High School in Brakenfell
  • Itsitsa Primary School in Mfuleni
  • Wellington Primary School in Wellington

In terms of preparedness for Wednesday, so far, our readiness plans have been a success:

  • Textbooks were ordered last year with the majority of the textbooks being delivered before the end of the 2014 school year. Outstanding textbooks will be delivered from Monday onwards when schools open. Top up orders will be placed for unexpected growth.
  • Arrangements for desks and chairs for learners in 2015 have been made.
  • Teacher appointments have been finalised and timetables were in place by the time schoolsclosed last year.
  • I also announced in 2014 that we were able to increase the number of new educator posts to 32 003 in 2015 – a further increase of 676 posts as compared to the adjusted allocation this year.

Every year the WCED receives a number of late enrolments. This is either because their parents have relocated to the Province during the festive season, or their parents have neglected their responsibility to enrol their children on time.

The WCED has officials who are working full-time with schools and parents to place late comers. The WCED introduced the new School Admission Management Information System last year. This system has assisted us in providing clear data and indicating which schools are full or still have space. Additional mobile classrooms have been placed on hold to accommodate unexpected growth in the province.

To parents who are having difficulties enrolling their child, or who have failed to enrol their child, they are advised to approach their nearest school as there could be some enrolment cancellations after the school holidays.

Alternatively they may approach the local district office for assistance with finding a place at a school.

Each district office has identified officials who will assist parents who struggle to find a place when schools re-open. Their contact details can be found below.

The projected enrolment for 2015 is 109 000 grade 1 learners.

Our system also currently indicates that 34 535 Gr R learners have applied successfully for a space at schools in the Western Cape.  Providing Grade R to learners within the province gives them a significant advantage in their first few years of schooling assisting us in achieving better results and education levels in foundation phase learners.

The WCED infrastructure section has invested heavily in Grade R over the past few years, building more than 406 classrooms in a four year period. This year 26 schools in the Western Cape will receive new Grade R classrooms.

Planning for the school year is not an easy task. It requires a great deal of work and involves various structures within the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), including head office, the districts, principals, educators and school management teams.

I would like to thank our officials and staff for ensuring that most of the preparations have been completed so that learning and teaching can begin on day one of the school year.

Going to school for the first time can be an anxious time for both the parents and learners. My advice to parents is to treat it like a new adventure by focussing on all the positive aspects that your child will experience at their new school.

I would also like to appeal to parents to take an active part in your child’s education. Children can achieve much more with supportive, interested parents. Without it, their entire futures could be compromised.

I certainly look forward to my “first day of school” on Wednesday as Provincial Minister of Education on 21 January 2015.