Cape Town-120116-At Lavis Drive Primary School, most pupils were excited about their first day of school, but there were those who were very upset at being separated from their parents. Zeeque Zeederberg (right) loudly voiced his displeasure, while Jade du Plessis (2nd right) and Feezariah Daniels (3rd right) don't understand what the fuss is about. Reporter Barbara Maregele. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

Cape Town - Flustered parents, with past school records and birth certificates clenched in their hands, paced the hallways at Valpark Primary School in Valhalla Park in a last-minute attempt to get placement for their children on Wednesday.

This was as more than 970 000 pupils across the province started the new school year.

Casedy Roman, 6, was one of about 100 000 Grade 1 pupils who started their school career. While Roman, dressed in her new uniform, held on to her aunt Ester Julies’s hand as the bell rang for her first school day to start, her fellow pupils appeared excited.

“She was excited to come to school when we left home, but now she doesn’t want to stay. I’m sure she’ll be fine,” Julies said.

Grade 1 teacher Glynes Bruiners welcomed the new pupils by inviting them to sit on the mat while she handed out name tags and lollipops.

“Parents often wait until the last minute to come and register their children, so we still doing a lot of running around and paperwork,” Bruiners said.

Several parents were seen rushing into the classroom requesting to register their children, but were referred to the administration office.

At Lavisrylaan Primary in Bishop Lavis, Grade 1 teacher Veronica Burger had her hands full with a roll call of about 40 pupils as she attempted to comfort six-year-old Zeeque Zeederberg who, an hour into the day, was still crying for his mother.

“There was a lot of crying when everyone arrived, but once they got settled and started working with the counting apparatus, they were fine,” she said.

Last year, 27 schools in the province received a notice from Education MEC Donald Grant that they would be closed this year.

Valpark Primary is one of the 17 schools that reopened their doors on Wednesday after the Western Cape High Court granted a reprieve last month.

They will remain open pending a review of Education MEC Donald Grant’s decision to shut them down, which is expected in March.

Meanwhile, ANC Western Cape chairman Marius Fransman visited one of the 17 schools, Beauvallon Secondary, in Valhalla Park. It was without electricity as a result of vandalism.

“Vandalism, security and infrastructure are major problems at the school. We are in the process of making a formal request to the department to provide the minimum requirements needed for a school in a poor community,” said Fransman. “Past pupils should come forward and assist in reviving the school when we come back next month,” he said to pupils on Wednesday.

Beauvallon’s matric pass rate improved from 24 percent in 2011 to 51 percent last year.

Acting principal Desmond Lawn said that a few pupils who were known to be disruptive and to not attend class regularly last year were turned away. Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said while there were a few hiccups, everything went as planned.

This included schools in the Cape Winelands and Overberg district, except Sibabalwe Primary in De Doorns, where more than 50 percent of the pupils attended school.

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Cape Times