Home News NC dept ready for new school year despite flooding, vandalism challenges

NC dept ready for new school year despite flooding, vandalism challenges

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More than 100 schools in the Northern Cape have been affected by the recent heavy rain storms and flooding

File picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Education says that although it faced challenges of flooding and damage at more than 100 schools in the Province, it is ready for the start of the 2021 academic year.

Department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said on Thursday that they have assessed what measures need to be put in place at the schools that were affected by the recent heavy rain storms that hit the Province.

“A total of 27 schools were affected by the recent floods and access roads to 127 schools were damaged and flooded. The full extent of the damage caused by the floods will only be established once schools are accessible and water levels have subsided,” said Ntuane.

“The hardest-hit district is John Taolo Gaetsewe, with 11 school affected by the floods and 119 routes damaged and inaccessible. The Frances Baard District saw nine schools and four routes affected by the floods.

“In the meantime, the infrastructure unit will explore the possibility of providing water and alternative sanitation services where needed. Our district offices are monitoring the situation and if needs be learners will be accommodated at nearby schools or community-based sites. The department is also in the process of redirecting mobile classrooms to where they are needed most in the Province.”

Ntuane added that they have also faced challenges of vandalism at some schools.

“The department deployed members of Parliament, members of the provincial executive council, members of the National Council of Provinces, members of the provincial legislature and other political leaders to various schools in the Province to assess the admission and registration of learners, learning and teaching resources and basic infrastructure at schools.

“Amid the ongoing cases of vandalism of schools, the MEC for Education, Zolile Monakali, has again reiterated the importance of community involvement and participation in the environment of their children’s education.”

Ntuane said the department has ensured that it has sufficient staff and resources in order for the new academic year to start smoothly.

“All 520 public ordinary, 11 special schools and 26 full-service schools have been issued with their final educator staff establishments for the 2021 academic year. Three-hundred and seven promotional posts were advertised, where 176 were filled and 14 posts were lost. A total of 77 posts are in the process of being re-advertised while 40 posts are still outstanding.

“The Sol Plaatje University has submitted a list of 161 students who have completed all academic work and will be considered for possible placement in vacant substantive posts once they complete the special assessment. More than 103 Funza Lushaka graduates have also been made available by the department for placement in the Province,” added Ntuane.

He advised that teachers with comorbidities should apply to work from home.

“Educators with comorbidities should apply using the prescribed form and are required to submit a doctor’s report not older than one month. For teachers who will be working from home, the educator assistant will be a mediator between the educator and the learners. The department has appointed 7 152 education assistants for a four-month period.”

Ntuane said all schools have received their learning and teaching support material (LTSM).

“All the 545 public ordinary schools received their LTSM allocation. More than 90 percent of the schools have procured stationery and the other schools will be receiving their order before schools reopen. Schools placed top-up orders for textbooks from September 2020 and the delivery commenced since then.”

Ntuane added that the department is on track with the placement of learners but that some parents are “hampering” the process.

“The placement of learners was 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 learner will be placed in a school where space exists. We cannot turn a blind eye to these applicants, as education is a constitutional right,” said Ntuane.