MECs Schäfer and Winde kick off 2019; Learner Placement Task Teams activated
Today was an exciting day for many learners and parents as over 1.1 million learners started school in the Western Cape - many for the first time.
This year, primary schools across the province have welcomed 108 325 Grade 1's and 83 360 Grade 8 learners.
"I would like to welcome all our new learners and their parents into our Western Cape schools. A special welcome to the learners who have started school for the first time" said Schafer.
This morning, Western Cape Minister for Education, Debbie Schäfer and Western Cape Minister for Community Safety, Alan Winde, visited Forest Village Leadership Academy in Eerste Rivier.
"I was very pleased to see how organised the Principal and school management team were", said Schäfer.
School Principal, Mrs Philander was at school very early this morning to ensure that the school was ready to receive learners. "As a result of good leadership, the school was ready for teaching and learning with classrooms well organised and class lists finalised" said Schafer. Many learners were already in their classrooms by 07h30.
Forest Village Leadership Academy welcomed 119 Grade R learners and 168 Grade 1 learners today.
Forest Village Leadership Academy is one of the Western Cape's Collaboration Schools, where we have seen substantial improvement in results. In the 2017 systemic tests we saw excellent improvements in both maths and languages.
In grade 3, we saw substantial increases in both the maths results, with a 16.4% increase compared to 2016, and the language results, with a 21.2% increase.
In Grade 6, we saw substantial increases in both the maths results, with a 16.4% increase compared to 2016, and the language results, with a 19.7% increase.
At Forest Village, the learners are met at the school gates by school safety officers. Minister Winde, who received a safety briefing from the principal, said: "The school safety officers we support have played a vital role in keeping our learners and teachers safe and in reducing vandalism at our schools. We are determined to keep criminal elements out of our school gates so that learners can focus on the task at hand, which is to further their education. We also encourage and support accredited Neighbourhood Watches, who are critical in keeping their communities safe. Every community member has a role to play in being the eyes and ears on the ground, so that our little ones stay safe. I was therefore pleased to see a number of Walking Buses ensuring that learners get to school safely, which I am informed are mainly operated by the mothers."
While many learners were very brave as they bid farewell to their parents, there were also a few anxious faces and one or two tears shed.
"It was heart-warming to see so many parents there to accompany their children to school on their first day. As most of the preparations were completed well before the end of last year, early indications are that we have had a smooth start to the 2019 school year" said Schafer.
Publishers 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 2019.
To accommodate the growth in numbers, the WCED completed 5 new schools last year, and another new school will be completed by April 2019.
Three mobile schools have also been completed to accommodate additional growth in hotspot areas.
46 additional mobile classrooms have been erected in areas identified for growth, as well as 34 brick and mortar classrooms.
The WCED will have a clearer idea of shifts in enrolment after the 10-day Snap survey later in January. We expect a number of places to open after the 10th day of school - as those learners who do not arrive (with a valid explanation) will be taken off the school system. There are many parents who "double book" places at schools, and therefore, we will see some places becoming available.
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. Please visit the WCED website for a list of district officials as well as answers to Frequently Asked Questions regarding enrolments - https://wcedonline.westerncape.gov.za/home/FAQ/faq-index.html
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has established Learner Placement Task Teams in each District and 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.
"We would also like to appeal to parents to play an active part in their child's education. 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. Children can achieve much more with supportive, interested parents. Without it, their entire futures could be compromised", said the Ministers.
"I would like to wish all our learners, educators, officials and parents the very best of luck for a productive and successful year ahead", said Schafer.
Ministry of Education
Cell: 076 175 0663
Ministry of Community Safety
Tammy De Decker
Cell: 076 941 9159