Cape Town - Nearly a million Western Cape pupils will start the 2013 school year on Wednesday and Education MEC Donald Grant says his department is as close to ready as it can be.

Of the 970 000 pupils, 100 000 were expected to start Grade 1 while about 80 000 will enter Grade 8.

Grant said late arrivals were expected.

“This is not unusual and happens every year. The Western Cape Education Department assists these parents and finds places for them as soon as possible.”

He said some of the parents had legitimate reasons for their late applications, for example, those who had moved to other provinces or areas in the Western Cape. “However, there is a small minority that have simply left enrolment too late.”

Some pupils who have been enrolled at schools also arrive late from other provinces. He said it was the parents’ responsibility to ensure that they enrolled their children early. Grant said many schools were already full.

“What we can offer them is our assistance to place their child at a school.

“We expect that it could take at least a week to determine where the majority of late learners can be placed.”

Grant’s spokeswoman Bronagh Casey said the strongest demand for places was in the metro north education district, followed by metro south and metro east.

Metro north covers the northern suburbs and surrounding areas; metro south includes Mitchells Plain and the southern peninsula; while metro east includes Khayelitsha and the Helderberg basin.

She said there had also been an “increased demand” for places in English-medium schools in rural districts, metro east and metro north.

“We have implemented measures for additional stock and resources should there be an unexpected growth in certain areas.

“This includes additional mobile classrooms, teaching posts, desks, chairs and textbooks, if required.”

Meanwhile metro police officers start doing duty at six schools on Wednesday, in a bid to help make schools safer places.

The six schools that were identified by the department are Oscar Mpetha High in Nyanga, Sizimisele High, in Khayelitsha, Bishop Lavis High, Lotus High in Lotus River, Crystal High in Hanover Park and Phoenix High in Manenberg.

JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the school resource officers had received training from the National Association of School Resource Officers from the US.


- Parents can call the Education Department’s call centre on 0861 923 322 for assistance.

[email protected]

Cape Argus