Lihle Dulamo was having the time of her life at FF Ribeiro Primary School in Mamelodi. Bongani Shilubane  African News Agency (ANA)
Lihle Dulamo was having the time of her life at FF Ribeiro Primary School in Mamelodi. Bongani Shilubane African News Agency (ANA)

Trials and tribulations of the first day of school

By SAKHILE NDLAZI Time of article published Jan 16, 2020

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Pretoria - It was a tale of doubles at FF Ribeiro Primary School for twins Mthokozisi and Lihle Dulamo.

They started school yesterday. On one side was Mthokozisi, who repeatedly kicked his classroom door, trying to escape while screaming at the top of his lungs. 

Signs were that he clearly didn’t want to be there.

On the other side, twin sister Lihle confidently went ahead and showed signs of eagerness.

From about 7am when children lined up to be sent to their different classes, Mthokozisi was already in tears and clinging to his mother Dineo.

Firmly gripping his mother’s top and hiding behind her back, he didn’t even flash a smile to other children.

“I don’t want school, I want to go home. Mom, you don’t love me,” he screamed, causing disruption to other children.

But Lihle handled everything with poise and grandeur, strutting into class and ready to learn. She looked around at the colourful walls and went straight to the numbers chart.

“I can count, you know,” she said with bravado. Undeterred by her brother’s loud cries, she grabbed a packet of pencils and tested the colours on paper.

Their mother said she was amazed at how things turned out.

“Both of them were super-excited to start school today. They could not stop looking at their uniforms and fitting their shoes. I guess Mtho was a bit overwhelmed,” she said.

But it was not only him who was overwhelmed.

While most handled the big day with ease, some found it tough having to say goodbye to parents, and there were tears and tantrums as they were not impressed at the prospect of being separated from their parents.

One little girl bawled while queuing to enter her classroom. A boy clung to the balustrade and had to be coaxed to let go by his patient mom. He cried and dragged his feet as he was led inside.

Others, on the other hand, have been waiting for this moment for years. One parent told the Pretoria News that her boy had counted down the days to Grade R so he could join his brother, who is in Grade 6.

Pupils who followed their parents into the school were almost dwarfed by the big backpacks on their shoulders and the school supplies they had to carry, such as big boxes of paper and bulk packs of toilet paper.

Fun and games awaited the Grade 1 pupils once they had placed their backpacks in lockers and were seated on the floor in front of their teacher. She asked them to share the highlight of their holidays. Most commented about the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

Before saying goodbye, parents made sure to capture the moment on their phones and asked their children to pose in their new uniforms.

Excited parents said seeing their children at school was worth the troublesome online admissions, pricey stationery and uniforms.

The Gauteng Department of Education has processed about 700 application appeals and will inform parents of the outcomes on Tuesday.

As the 2020 academic year starts, the department said it had done everything possible to ensure a smooth start to the first day of school.

“Our parents are accustomed to the online admission application process. During this period we received many applications on the first day, more than all other years, which means parents are getting used to the system,” said department spokesperson Steve Mabona.

“We applaud parents who applied on time for Grade 1 and 8 online admissions for 2020.”

He said all appeals were carefully considered and fairly adjudicated.

Pretoria News

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