The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said it was ready to welcome learners to its schools for the start of the 2024 academic year.
On Wednesday, the province will see 93,000 Grade 1 and 98,000 Grade 8 learners step into its facilities.
However, despite the R716 million blow to its budget, the WCED is working hard to place learners in schools who applied for admission late.
Western Cape MEC for Education, David Maynier said his department is conducting its final finishing touches on the 10 new schools and three replacement schools as part of its Rapid School Build programme.
“Some of the schools and additional classrooms are finished, and others will take a little time to be completed (we have made arrangements for the learners in the meantime). We’ve seen some incredible completion rates this year. For example, Fisherhaven Junior High School was completed in just 71 days.
“Following over a year of being blocked from construction by criminal activity, we have laid the foundations at the Blueridge site, where we are building a new primary and high school for the community of Wallacedene, Kraaifontein,” Maynier said.
He previously said Lwandle Primary School in Somerset West is also back on track, following disruptions at the site.
Classroom expansions are in progress or completed at dozens of existing schools, some of which have committed their own funding to expand the number of places available in their schools.
Maynier said there are challenges with extremely late applications.
“The challenge with extremely late applications is that we do not know: how many new applications we will receive; where the extremely late placement will be required; the grades, language, and ages of the learners; and the specific subjects and specialised needs of the learners.
“We ask for patience as we make progress in placing these extremely late applicants. We cannot predict where and when these late applicants will arrive, and this has made planning our resource allocation in advance extremely difficult. We urge any parent who has not yet applied for the 2024 school year to do so immediately at their education district office.
“We will work to place every learner for whom an application is received going forward, but we want to be clear that schools are full in the Western Cape,” Maynier said.
He has urged all learners to start the new school year on a positive note.
“Your teachers work exceptionally hard to support you, so we need you and your parents to ensure that you arrive at school every day, on time, ready to learn. This is an investment in your own future, and it will pay off in the long run,” Maynier added.