1st day of school in the Western Cape off to a good start

By Debbie Schafer, Western Cape Minister of Education:

Today was an exciting day for many learners and parents as approximately a million learners in the Western Cape started school, many for the first time.

I would like to welcome all our new learners and their parents into our Western Cape schools.

This morning I visited Intshinga Primary School in Gugulethu and I was very pleased to see how organised the Principal and school management team were.

School Principal, Mrs Vinqi was at school very early this morning to ensure that the school was ready to receive learners. She started the school day at 8am with an assembly where she reminded the learners about values and respect – respect for self, for their teachers and for the school. This is the kind of leadership we need to see more of in our schools.

Mrs Vinqi mentioned that she had placed all her Learner Teaching and Support Material (LTSM) orders last year and that all LTSM had been delivered on time. She is optimistic for the 2016 school year.

With 199 school days in the 2016 academic year, I am pleased that teaching and learning at Intshinga Primary commenced on time today, although I was concerned at a number of latecomers.

It was heart-warming to see so many parents there to accompany their children to school on their first day. There were many tears shed and learners clung to their parents legs. One Grade R learner even tried to make a run for it. His parents and teachers eventually convinced him to go to his class where he would meet many new friends.

All learners, including the Grade R’s and 1’s were seated in their classrooms by 08h15, and learning had begun.

As most of the preparations were completed well before the end of last year, I am pleased that early indications are that we have had a smooth start to the 2016 school year.

Publishers had delivered all textbooks ordered by schools via the WCED’s online textbook ordering system at the end of last year. Schools will place top-up orders should they experience unexpected growth in enrolment.

Suppliers have delivered additional desks, chairs and other items of furniture requested by schools for 2016.

The Department has ordered extra PVC classrooms and will relocate these, as required. Final placement will depend on where they are needed the most.

It takes between six and eight weeks to install the classrooms. The WCED will have a clearer idea of shifts in enrolment after the 10-day Snap survey later in January.

To parents who are having difficulties enrolling their child, or who have failed to enrol their child: I urge you to approach the local district office as soon as possible, 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.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) will be on stand-by to provide assistance at schools where there are late registrations and any other last-minute tasks that need to be completed.

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

Parents have an important role in their child’s school career and we ask that they assist us in this 12 year journey by cultivating and encouraging their child’s reading and writing skills.

Finally, I would like to wish all our learners, educators, officials and parents the very best of luck for a productive and successful year ahead.