Late learner admissions frustrates start of school year

Parents who did not respond to requests last year to ensure that their children are enrolled in schools timeously are frustrating efforts to kick off the 2015 school year successfully.

The provincial Department of Education indicated at a briefing meeting on Monday, 19 January 2015 that it would be concentrating on five indicators for school readiness, which include progress on learner admissions, delivery of learner-teacher support material, infrastructure challenges, teacher demand, supply and utilisation and teaching and learning on the first day of schooling.

It is regrettable that schools have been flooded with late applications for learner admissions.  It has come to my attention that numerous children are stranded without schools to attend, especially in Grades 1 and 8 as a result of parents not having their children enrolled in time.

Sadly, these late admissions will definitely have a negative impact on the teaching and learning calendar at many of our schools.  This will place an additional burden on our already overcrowded schools and it will then be the department’s responsibility to identify schools where overflow can be admitted.

The department must be commended for having delivered 100% of stationary to all schools in the province as well as 99% of leaner-teachers support material by the end of 2014.  It has also undertaken to top up shortages of textbooks at a rate of 5% per school.

My concern with the top-up of only 5% is not adequate to provide books for all learners.

The DA welcomes the approach of the department in that it will be focussing on under-performing districts that achieved less than 60% in the National Senior Certificate examinations, namely Mount Frere, Butterworth, Queenstown, Fort Beaufort and Dutywa.

The department has also indicated that special attention will be given to the Sterkspruit district due to labour- and community service delivery unrest which negatively affected learning and teaching in 2014 as well as less than encouraging Annual National Assessment results in the district.  The DA supports this approach.

There are still numerous challenges as in previous years that must be overcome to ensure quality and meaningful education in the Eastern Cape.

We still have 5 103 teachers vacancies in our schools of which 1 465 are in secondary schools.  We also have 6 453 teachers that are in addition to staff establishments and of this total there are 1 815 in our secondary schools.

The DA will continue to bring innovative suggestions to the department and to the legislature’s portfolio committee on education, to find ways to resolve this decade-long issue.