The MEC for Education was pleased to see that at most schools it was business as usual
ONLY 40 percent of pupils in Kimberley attended school yesterday, indicating that parents were cautious about sending their children to school.
The Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said yesterday that while no disruptions were reported in the city yesterday, the attendance of teachers (90%) and pupils (40%) at the 75 schools in the city was a clear indication that people were cautious.
“The MEC for Education, Martha Bartlett, visited 10 schools in Galeshewe, Roodepan and Greenpoint to assess and monitor the school reopening. She was pleased to see that at most schools it was business as usual,” Van der Merwe said following the visits.
“The MEC encouraged schools to make use of their SMS systems and schedule parent meetings to notify parents to send their children to school. We are confident that teachers and pupils will be in full attendance as from today.”
Van der Merwe said, however, that the department was concerned about the number of pupils seen wandering in the streets, whilst they should be in class learning.
“It should be emphasised, as a department, we don’t have much control over pupils outside our premises and do encourage parents and the broader community to assist us in this regard. Education is a societal matter and collectively we must take responsibility to ensure that all pupils of school-going age are in class.”
He added that the reopening of schools in the Northern Cape was overall successful, with a few challenges reported to the district offices.
“Our main concern at this stage, is the suspension of pupil transport services by some operators in the ZF Mgcawu District, until an increase in their tariffs is implemented. We are busy engaging Provincial Treasury with regards to a possible increase in tariffs for all service providers.”
He said the department was of the view, however, that these service providers were not negotiating in good faith, since the function of pupil transport was located with the Department of Education from April 1, 2018.
“We urge these service providers to continue to provide these services whilst we are doing our utmost best to resolve all their concerns.
“Our pupils deserve the best possible access to education, with the necessary support from the department and the broader society. Collectively, we can bring about the change we want to see in our schools and in our society through education. We should not underestimate the power of education.”
The DA’s Safiyia Stanfley said meanwhile that while the party was relieved that the ongoing unrest in the Sol Plaatje area apparently did not derail the reopening of schools yesterday, it was concerned that a number of schools in Galeshewe did not resume schooling yesterday.
“We call on the Northern Cape Department of Education as well as the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality to fix the water problems at the Sol Plaatje Primary School as a matter of urgency. A lack of water forced the school to close its doors early and send pupils home, as it would have been unhygienic and a risk to the health of pupils to continue schooling without adequate sanitation. It is unacceptable that something as basic as water cannot be provided to schools and that pupils must be deprived of their education as a result,” she said.
Stanfley also expressed concern regarding reports that pupils from some schools were found roaming the streets, as classes did not resume at their respective schools. “When pupils are left unsupervised like this, accidents or injuries can occur and we are concerned about the safety of these pupils.
“Kimberley has been gripped by violent community protests in the past few days and it is a relief that schools could reopen. We want to appeal to community leaders to ensure that pupils, teachers and support staff are able to arrive safely at school and are allowed to continue schooling, irrespective of the disagreements between the community and the municipality. The pupils did not cause or contribute to the problems and it is not fair that they should be made to suffer,” she added.