Minister Schäfer welcomes learners back to class
This morning I visited West End Primary School and Woodville Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain to welcome learners back to class after the holidays.
The principals of both schools reported that staff were prepared and energized for the school year. Learners were excited too – although there were a few tears from some of the little ones!
I was very impressed by the Covid-19 protocols put in place by the schools and was pleased to see that even the youngest learners arrived wearing masks correctly.
Unfortunately, there are some learners who will not be starting school today as we work to find a place for them at a suitable school. As happens every year, we have seen a significant increase in the number of learners seeking a place in the province. We have done our best to cater for this increase through opening new schools and classrooms.
We are opening Delft-North Primary School, catering for 1 240 learners. We have also completed two mobile schools – Witsands Primary School and Fisantekraal Primary School, catering for 400 learners each. In addition:
- 9 schools received 38 new classrooms in total to accommodate 1 560 learners;
- 58 mobile classrooms for 2 280 learners have been placed at 11 schools;
- Moladi classrooms for stream expansion at 5 schools are in progress; and
- 10 schools have received 18 new classrooms for Grade R learners.
However, the reality is that our budget simply does not meet the demand for school places in our province. With an average of 22 000 extra learners joining us each year, we would need to build 22 schools just to keep up, before we even begin to tackle the backlog. This is simply impossible with our current budget.
I also visited Lentegeur High School and Alpine Primary School to view recently completed infrastructure work at these schools. Both schools have had fencing installed, while the ablution facilities at Alpine Primary have been replaced after being severely damaged by vandals. I again urge the public to report any suspicious activity around their school to SAPS so that we do not have to divert budget to fix criminal damage.
Learners, parents, teachers and the wider school community can also call our Safe Schools Call Centre on 0800 45 46 47 toll-free to report crime, abuse, and bullying, and for information about a host of social issues.
I wish our learners and school staff a happy and productive year despite the ongoing pandemic. Our schools have shown over the last year how vitally important they are, and I look forward to seeing the innovative approaches they will use this year as we work together to keep our learners at school and learning safely.