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Dept 'satisfied' with schools

FIRST DAY: Grade 1 pupils from Du Toitspan Primary School. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Education (NCDoE) said yesterday it was “satisfied” with the state of readiness of all schools in the Province for the 2019 school academic year.

This comes after thousands of pupils across the Northern Cape yesterday returned to class for the first day of school for 2019.

However, it was not all smooth sailing, with at least two schools experiencing problems.

NCDoE spokesperson, Lehuma Ntuane, yesterday said that the department was finalising outstanding pupil placements and had secured placement for 323 pupils in both Grades 1 and 8.

“We must indicate that since the schools reopened, we have received more than a hundred new late applications, which is a clear indication that parents are not fulfilling their primary responsibility. The Frances Baard District office has the highest enrolment of pupils and therefore we have prioritised these admissions.

“We have indicated from the onset that we won’t be able to guarantee parents a school of preference. Our district offices have already started to contact parents to provide alternative placement for pupils.

“We further encourage parents to work with us to speedily resolve the placement of pupils. We cannot turn a blind eye to these applicants, as education is a constitutional right,” Ntuane said.

He added that the department was busy conducting an “in-depth analysis” on the outcomes of the NSC Examination results to develop an improvement plan for 32 underperforming schools in the Province.

“The improvement plan will be school specific as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to address underperforming. We call on all schooling communities and the broader society to work with us to ensure quality education in all our schools.

“We must recommit ourselves to the strenuous task ahead of us in the 2019 school academic year,” he stated.

Meanwhile schooling at the Boresetse Secondary School in Barkly West, the second worst performing school in the Northern Cape during the 2018 National Senior Certificate Examinations, with a matric pass rate of only 40.7 percent, yesterday got off to a rocky start.

Hundreds of pupils from about 15 classes were sent home shortly after arriving for their first school day of 2019, as renovations to the school building have still not been completed.

Livid parents yesterday indicated that they were promised that renovations, that commenced in 2018, would be completed by the start of the first day of school.

However, this was not the case yesterday and hundreds of pupils were sent home and told that they should return on Monday, when renovations are expected to be finished.

One father said that losing even one day of school was “completely unacceptable”, especially in the second worst performing school in the Province.

“We were given the guarantee that the renovations to the school would be completed but now the contractor seems to be behind schedule and our children must suffer,” he said.

He stated that pupils from about 15 classes were sent home and added that there were fears for the safety of the pupils who were allowed to stay.

At a school Jan Kempdorp it was reported that disgruntled parents threatened to close the school if the principal, who allegedly called some pupils the K word during 2018, was not removed.

Tensions apparently ran high as dozens of parents yesterday gathered at the school and demanded that the principal be removed.

The department, however, stated that teaching at the school had commenced as normal yesterday.

“The MEC for Education, Martha Bartlett, visited the school as part of her monitoring programme.

She committed to meet with the SGB, SMT and the parents next week Tuesday to attend to the challenges which have created tension at the school,” Ntuane said.