Education MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane, centre, surveys the damage yesterday to Mvuzo High School in Pietermaritzburg, which was torched in an attack at the weekend. Nqobile Mbonambi
Durban - It was a mostly smooth start to the 2018 school year with only one incident reported, at a Mariannhill school.

Yesterday, thousands of children donned their school uniforms, some for the very first time, and embraced the new school year. While parents battled with heavy stationery packs and held back the tears, their children eagerly darted into classrooms to find their friends.

Mom Ashleigh Downes said she remained strong while walking her son, Mikhael, to his Grade 1 class.

“I managed to hold it altogether until I was in the car,” she said.

Another mom, Janine Lutchman, said she was very proud of her daughter, Vashti, who started Grade R.

Bianca Bonhomme said her daughter Bria-Lee kept telling her not to cry.

“She was excited to see her classroom and make new friends. I just kept crying from the time she put her school shoes on,” she said.

In Mariannhill, parents pushed through gates to gain access to the school to register their children.

Thirona Moodley, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa chief executive, said late registrations were a national challenge with parents failing to register pupils on time last year.

“This has resulted in parents hunting for spaces at the 11th hour. Schools closed their registrations in November last year and all logistics are in place,” she said.

Meanwhile, the MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal, Mthandeni Dlungwane, visited Mvuzo High School in Pietermaritzburg. The school’s administration block was burnt down at the weekend.

It was one of two KZN schools that were torched in suspected arson attacks.

The MEC wished pupils well as they embarked on the new school year.

However, the DA’s Dr Rishigen Viranna said that at the current rate, more than half of the young boys and girls would not write their matric exams in 2030 and would either drop out of the schooling system or be forced out of it.

Viranna said this was of great concern to the DA.

“Education is the greatest tool to empowerment and development. Many employers see a matric pass as the minimum requirement for numerous jobs,” he said.

The Mercury