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Kimberley - With thousands of pupils throughout the city and the Northern Cape set to return to school for the start of the 2019 academic year tomorrow, the Northern Cape Department of Education was on Monday hard at work finalising the outstanding placement of pupils.

Education department spokesperson, Lehuma Ntuane, said on Monday that the Office of the MEC had received a total of 575 appeals and parents were informed about the outcomes in December last year.

“Most of the appeals were not submitted within the stipulated seven-day period after parents received their rejection letters from schools in October.”

He said the MEC also received close to 200 appeals which were submitted after November 25.

“We indicated to parents from the onset that we would not be able to guarantee a school of preference due to the available space at certain schools. We have committed ourselves to finalising most, if not all, pupil placements before the schools open tomorrow.”

Ntuane said the department’s district officers had already started contacting parents to provide alternative placement to pupils.

“We further encourage parents to work with us to speedily resolve the placement of pupils.”

He said an update on the pupil admission statistics would be provided tomorrow as the department normally received new pupil admissions from parents who had never applied. “We cannot turn a blind eye to these applicants, as education is a constitutional right.”

Elizabeth Conradie Grade 4 pupil, Jamienca Botha, and Handre Botha a Grade 8 pupil who will be attending Landboudal can’t wait to return to school.

Regarding Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM), Ntuane said the department regarded these an integral and vital part of the education system. “The provisioning of textbooks for every pupil in the schooling system is a priority. The NCDOE has ensured that textbook provisioning since the implementation of Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) is finalised before starting the new cycle of procurement annually. This implies that all schools received their textbooks as per respective orders placed.”

He added that the key focus areas in the monitoring of LTSM provisioning were on the distribution of workbooks and textbooks as well as stationery. It also included the availability of an LTSM inventory with regards to Braille materials and other assistive devices in special schools as well as the availability and effectiveness of the implementation of Textbook Retrieval Policies.

“In terms of the CAPS rollout plan, CAPS 2 implementation was completed in 2017 for 2018. The focus for 2018 was to close universal coverage gaps in terms of LTMS provisioning.”

Ntuane said schools placed orders in April 2018 for grades 7 and 8 home language novels and top ups (Grades 4 to 12) to the value of R14 608 557.

“Publishers started delivery on September 23 2018 to the delivery agent, the South African Post Office (SAPO) warehouse. Delivery of textbooks from publishers is at 99%, with only 67 books outstanding from three publishers.”

He stated that delivery to schools commenced in November last year. On December 14 it was at 88.38%, with only 46 schools outstanding and these will receive their books this week.

“One hundred percent delivery is expected by Friday this week.”

He stated further that all 533 public ordinary schools, 11 special schools and 12 full service schools had been issued with their final educator staff establishments for the 2019 academic year.

“The percentage of public ordinary, special and full service schools that will receive the same or more posts for 2019 is 439 (80,7%), which is an 8,8% increase from the 401 schools in 2018. Schools are allocated educator posts based on the number of pupils in the school for that particular year on a ratio of 1:32 in public ordinary schools, while the ratio in special schools is 1:12.”

A breakdown of the statistics is as follows: Schools that will receive the same number of posts is 288 (53%), those gaining posts is 151 (28%) and those losing posts is 105 (19%).

Ntuane said further that all schools in the Northern Cape have access to water, sanitation and electricity.

“Numerous orders have been issued for the provisioning of furniture to schools that received new infrastructure. The department delivered a total of 836 chairs and 957 desks for 2018/19 financial year.”

He said that given the anticipated growth in pupils numbers, the department was also moving mobile classrooms to strategic areas to address the overcrowding in some schools.

“We have completed maintenance projects in 16 schools and in 23 schools the projects will be completed by first quarter of 2019.”

During the first quarter of 2019, four new primary schools (Karos, Steynville, Wrenchville and Greenpoint) will be opened, as well as two hostels in Bankhara Bodulong and Lesedi.

“Members of Parliament, Members of the NC Executive Council, Members of the National Council of Provinces, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Mayors and Councillors have been deployed to various schools across the Province tomorrow to monitor admissions and registrations; school management planning; teacher provisioning; learning and teaching resources; and basic infrastructure.

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