Back-to-school rush in KZN

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Copy of ND GEM 2 (39232864) INLSA It is back to school for more than 200 000 pupils across KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday. On Monday, parents and pupils thronged to Gem Clothing, in Overport, to complete last-minute shopping for uniforms, shoes and accessories. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Durban - KWAZULU-Natal schools are ready to welcome the 218 398 Grade 1 pupils starting school on Wednesday.

School admissions closed in October and although the KZN Department of Education is confident the majority of parents heeded the call to enroll children early, isolated cases of non-admission are expected.

Department spokesman, Muzi Mahlambi, said that after the release of the matric results, parents often tried to change schools at the last minute.

“Schools that have done well are attractive to parents and it puts pressure on the schools. The HoD (head of department) addressed district managers to monitor the situation,” he said.

“This is a ‘good problem’ that needs to be managed.”

Mahlambi said all districts had their own admissions committees to deal with situations where children were not placed at schools.

“We anticipate there to be rough patches this week but we will deal (with them) speedily and everything should be ready by Monday.”

Mahlambi said all school textbooks and workbooks had been delivered to schools “as ordered”.

“We have universal coverage (one book per child) for workbooks but, unfortunately, not yet for textbooks as we do not have enough resources,” he said. “We are seeing improvements, though.”

Members of the KZN legislature, as well as national MPs, will visit a number of schools across the province this week as part of the Schools Functionality Monitoring Programme, to assess the state of school readiness.

Learning

They will also consult local stakeholders to hear how they believe teaching and learning can be improved within communities.

The politicians will determine whether schooling began on the first day, check delivery of stationery, availability of teaching staff and school infrastructure.

A preliminary report on their findings will be presented at a portfolio committee meeting on January 29.

“We are better off this year than any other year and feel we are combat-ready,” Mahlambi said.

Meanwhile, parents have mixed feelings about the financial implications of sending children to school.

Jennifer Stevens, a mother of two, said she was “fine” with her children’s school fees.

Her daughter goes to Gardenia Primary, while her son attends Umbilo Secondary School.

She pays R1 400 a year for both their school fees.

Another parent, who was buying a school uniform for her daughter, said it had been “a very expensive year”.

Sibongile Jali from Asherville, who is sending her daughter to Clayton Primary School, said buying a uniform and stationery had been her biggest concern.

“Liliosa’s school fees are R800 a year but the stationery she needs and uniforms are very expensive.

“I am just praying that I have enough money for everything she needs,” Jali said.

Carla Smith, who has a son and daughter at St Theresa’s Primary School in Sydenham, said the past few weeks had not been as difficult as she had anticipated.

“As a single parent, I was stressed, but it’s all gone well. I am happy with paying the school fees at my child’s school because it is very reasonable,” she said.

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