Statement by Minister Debbie Schäfer
Western Cape Minister of Education:
On Wednesday 27th January 2015, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) was notified that a temporary school had been established in a tent in Mfuleni to accommodate learners that had reportedly not been enrolled in a school for the 2015 academic year.
The district immediately sought to identify the names, ages and grades of the learners so that they could help assist with placement. Initial feedback was that the learners were ‘new’ to the area and now required placement in a school.
The District met with the organising committee of the community – and requested the details of the learners.
The immediate demand by the community leaders was for a new school.
The Department advised the community leaders that a new Primary School, as well as a High School, is already in our school infrastructure plan, however, land had still not been identified and obtained. Our immediate concern was to assist with placement of learners as soon as possible. To do this, we needed to identify their age, grade and whether the learner had previously been enrolled at another school.
On Saturday, 31st January 2014 the WCED arranged a registration drive at Bardale Primary School.
433 learners of school going age were registered.
What was interesting was that only 42 of the 433 learners are from the broader Mfuleni area.
50% of the learners are from other provinces.
All other learners are from other areas such as Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain that were relocated to the area in December 2014.
The majority of the learners are in Grade 1, with just over 160 Grade 1 learners looking for placement.
The important fact is that because these are new residents in the area, they did not register their children at a nearby school. This made it impossible to foresee and plan accordingly.
With this information now in hand, the WCED immediately sought to place the learners. As the overwhelming majority of these learners are new arrivals that had arrived in the area only in December 2014 the WCED now needed – at short notice – to be place the learners in school.
Following discussions with the local primary schools in the area, the WCED has already arranged for approximately 60 of the Grade 1 learners to be accommodated at a local primary school.
The WCED has also sourced mobile classrooms that will be placed at one of the local primary schools in Mfuleni which is still being identified. The mobile classrooms will accommodate an additional 90+ learners.
In the interim we are accommodating all primary school learners at Bardale Primary School where tuition is taking place.
Additional teaching posts, materials and books have been arranged.
Of the 23 high school learners that registered this past Saturday, 8 have been identified as learners who should be attending AET colleges and have been referred for enrolment. 15 high school learners are currently being assisted with placements in the area.
The events around this case in Mfuleni have highlighted once again the challenges we face as a Department when dealing with new arrivals at the start of the school year. These challenges are made even greater by the concentrated areas into which learners migrate at short notice. Nevertheless, the WCED will place these learners in schools.
I am glad that we have been able to, in the interim, resolve this matter as quickly and efficiently as possible and that tuition is taking place in an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning.