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All systems go for 2020

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However, pupil admission was still in progress as a result of late application.

MEC for Education, Mac Jack. Picture: Danie van der Lith

IT’S all systems go for the start of the 2020 academic year in the Northern Cape with all Grade 1 and Grade 8 pupils securing placement at schools.

This is according to the MEC for Education, Mac Jack, who admitted at a press conference on Monday morning that pupil admission was still in progress as a result of late applications.

“By November 1, 2019, we had received a total of 31 897 pupil admission applications compared to the 20 755 received in 2018,” said Jack.

He added that this number had been growing as a result of late applications and was expected to increase when schools reopen tomorrow.

“We received 33 455 applications from grade R to 12. To date we have placed all Grade 1 and Grade 8 pupils where school spaces exist. Our district offices are busy contacting parents, informing them about the placements.”

According to Jack, the Frances Baard and John Taolo Gaetsewe districts remain the high pressure areas, where the highest pupil enrolment numbers existed, particularly in central towns.

“Part of this challenge is the relocation of parents seeking employment, school hoppers and the limited number of English classes in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District, Frances Baard District and ZF Mgcawu District, which impacts on the placement of the middle grades.”

Jack added that a number of applications had also been received from pupils who are already accommodated in a school where the next grade is offered. “These pupils (school hoppers) will only be allowed to move from the existing schools to another school if spaces are available after all the new entrants have been accommodated.”

He added that the districts were busy finalising the placement of middle grades.

“The placement of pupils is also hampered by parental choice since most of the above-mentioned parents demand spaces at a particular school. As a department we cannot guarantee a school of choice, but every pupil will be placed in a school where school spaces do exist. We cannot turn a blind eye to these applicants, as education is a constitutional right.”

Jack pointed out further that the department was also experiencing a challenge with regard to the placement of Grade Rs, especially in the Frances Baard District.

“We will not be able to place all pupils in Grade R classes at public schools. We are encouraging 641 Grade R parents to start looking for placement at Early Childhood Development (ECD) community-based sites as we cannot guarantee placement at public schools. It is an unfortunate situation we find ourselves in and have therefore prioritised the construction of new ECD classrooms in 2020.”

In terms of Learning Support Material (LSM) (textbook and other resource material) and Non-LSM (stationery), Jack explained that schools had placed their textbook orders from May to June 2019.

“Publishers started delivery from September 20, 2019 to the distribution warehouse, with 99.6% delivery from publishers. Delivery to schools commenced on October 28, 2019 and continued throughout the holiday period. To date 492 schools out of 524 received their orders. Delivery to the remaining 32 schools will be concluded by the time schools open tomorrow.”

All schools also placed their respective stationery orders in 2019 and, according to the department, delivery to schools is at 95%. “The outstanding deliveries to schools will be concluded by Friday this week.

One hundred percent of workbooks have been delivered.

“Our District Offices are monitoring increased pupil enrolments to address challenges and shortages where it arises,” Jack stated.

He pointed out that the retention and retrieval of textbooks at the end of the year remained a big challenge, and an advocacy campaign was conducted to encourage pupils to return the textbooks to the school.

“Parents were requested to honour their parental responsibility in ensuring that their children act responsibly and ensure that all textbooks loaned to their child are returned by the end of the 2019 academic year.

Principals of schools are required to ensure that maximum retention of textbooks is achieved. That calls for an effective textbook retrieval system at every school in the Province.

“A reporting regime from schools will allow the provincial department to assess the retrieval rate by February 2020.”