Western Cape Education Department Prepared and Ready for the Year Ahead
I am pleased with the progress we have made in ensuring that our Western Cape schools are prepared and ready for the 2011 school year.
A major focus for 2011 is the protection of instruction time. Therefore, officials have been working hard to ensure that teaching and learning will start on the first day of new school year, and I am delighted that the vast majority of schools finished their preparations for the 2011 school year in the last term of 2010.
In order to ensure we are well-prepared, departmental officials used a checklist to audit school readiness in September, and again in early December. Some of the indicators that were used included staff establishments, time tables, enrolments, furniture, textbooks and school buildings, and cleanliness.
According to the December audit, 99% of schools were ready for the 2011 school year.
In terms of stationery, all schools have received their stationary and related materials, except for those that asked suppliers to hold the stocks until the end of the holiday, for security reasons. Suppliers have been requested to deliver these stocks in time for the first day of term.
A reserve stock of desks and chairs has been procured for emergencies, such as in cases where schools need more stock due to late enrolments.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) finalised delivery of learning and teaching materials for non-Section 21 schools in November 2010 and, as part of our textbook top-up programme, a number of schools received additional textbooks in October and November.
Last year, all high schools offering Life Sciences received Grade 12 Life Sciences textbooks, all primary schools received Maths textbooks for Grades 4 to 7 and will receive Grade 2 and 3 maths textbooks by the end of January. Reading books for Grades 1 to 6 at 258 schools were also delivered.
In September, we issued a School Planning Calendar for the 2011 school year in order to prepare teachers, principals and parents well in advance about education activities planned for 2011.
The calendar included a schedule of dates for training programmes, meetings, tests and examinations, as well as, other important administrative deadlines. This has allowed schools enough time to pro-actively plan ahead and prepare for the upcoming year.
Another focus this year will be on school cleanliness.
The Department has therefore urged schools to ensure, as far as possible, that their schools are safe and clean places of learning.
In 2011 officials will be monitoring school neatness throughout the school year, and we encourage schools to involve their local communities to assist in their efforts in making their school a clean and safe place of learning.
In a system so big, there will obviously be some teething problems at the start of the school year, and we do expect to have some late registrations and admissions at some of our schools. However, officials have identified areas where there might be high levels of demand and are currently assisting schools in these areas on how to deal with these issues should they arise.
We are expecting approximately 80 000 learners to begin Grade 1 this year.
The majority of our schools will open on Monday, 17 January. Last year, the WCED gave schools the option of starting two days earlier, so that they can close on 28 and 29 April, between two long weekends.
The WCED decided to offer this option because many learners would probably be absent on 28 and 29 April. Therefore this arrangement will maximise teaching and learning time.
Around 80% of our schools will open on Monday, with the remainder of schools opening on Wednesday, 19 January.
The WCED requested that schools tell parents of these arrangements in their children's reports cards at the end of 2010. However, if unsure, we urge parents to contact their schools either today or on Friday or their district office.
The majority of educators returned to school today to prepare.
I would like to wish all our educators and staff a Happy New year and encourage them to put maximum effort into making 2011 a successful, productive school year!
Minister of Education
Spokesperson for Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Tel: 021 467 2377
Cell: 072 724 1422