Proud parents and family members flooded schools as 93,000 Grade 1 and 98,000 Grade 8 learners started their new ventures.
Western Cape MEC for Education, David Maynier welcomed learners at Westcott Primary School in Diep River, as they started their new academic year.
“Today is a big day in our province with 1.2 million learners returning to school in the Western Cape,” Maynier said.
“As a department, we have been working hard over the past few months to prepare for the 2024 school year. We have put up 10 new schools through our Rapid School Build programme,” he said.
“We have allocated R49 million worth of textbooks, R25 million worth of stationery, R17 million worth of furniture, R2 million in equipment and we are prepared for the school year. It is all systems go. That is not say that there aren’t challenges.”
He further stated 99% of Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners who applied on time, have been placed in schools.
However, they are still working on placement for 2,636 learners and working to resolve 609 extremely late applications which have been received after January 1.
The department also has 28,600 teachers and 7,300 public service staff at its public schools.
One Grade 1 learner already has their eyes set on the end of the year.
“I am looking forward to the graduation in November,” he said, and already has his goals in place: “I want to be the smartest boy in the world. I want to be the president,” he told IOL.
Another Grade 1 learner who completed Grade R at the school, said she was looking forward to going to after care.
“There are toys!” she said.
Grade 1 teacher, Janet Williams said she was looking forward to welcoming her new class.
“They are all very excited to be here and looking forward to learning to read and that is one of my real joys. To teach a child to read,” Williams said.
Also at Westcott Primary, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde expressed his happiness to see how confident learners are stepping into school.
“Today is the culmination of a lot of work. I must say to the Department thank you for the work they have done, especially with the pressure the province is under. We’re getting cuts in our budgets, massive demands for service delivery for more schools, more classes, more positions,” Winde said.
“At this school, they have a special programme for parents and learners who are coming here from other parts of the province and country in other grades, not necessarily Grade R or Grade 1. That just shows the pressure on our system.”
Winde thanked parents for their patience in waiting for those school placements. He said more than 120,000 learners have been placed and about 600 late applications of learners still need to be placed in schools.
Winde said there was also some angst about how many other people would be coming in the next couple of weeks to have their children placed in schools.