Cape Town – Scores of schoolchildren were excited to take their seats in a classroom on Wednesday morning as the 2022 academic year got under way.
Safety and Security Mayco member JP Smith said going back to school was an exciting and often daunting time for both learners and parents.
Smith said many did not have the luxury of dropping off their children personally, and relied on the services of public transport operators and those who provide dedicated scholar transport.
"Often, children spend a large part of their day in transit, and we have a duty to ensure that they get to school and home safely. Parents, schools, vehicle owners and drivers should work together in this regard," said Smith.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer visited Perivale Primary School in Grassy Park, where she said learners were generally excited to be back in class. Principal Zaahier Jacobs and his staff were on hand to dry any tears from the youngest learners who were nervous about heading to ‘big school’ for the first time.
Schäfer said adding to the excitement is the new replacement school building that Perivale PS will move into this year.
She said approximately 1.1 million learners start the 2022 school year in the Western Cape this week, including approximately 105 000 Grade 1s and 97 000 Grade 8s.
"Unfortunately, most learners will continue to attend school on a rotational basis, costing our learners further precious time in class despite recommendations from experts that schools return to full attendance," said Schäfer.
She said she would continue to engage with the national government regarding a return to daily attendance for all learners as soon as possible.
The Western Cape MEC of Education, Debbie Schäfer, visited Perivale Primary School in Lotus River to celebrate the start of the school year.— Cape Argus (@TheCapeArgus) January 19, 2022
Video: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA) pic.twitter.com/ytjcvNFeP4
When the Cape Argus visited a few schools including Zimasa Primary School, Parliament Street Primary School and Inkanini Primary School, some learners were being allocated to classes.
One of the parents, Nomasibulele Mvotyo, at Zimasa Primary School in Langa, said her child had been looking forward to the day.
Mvotyo urged the government not enforce a rotational timetable this year.
Zimasa Primary School governing body (SGB) chairperson Celeka Daniso said one of the problems the school faced was the lack of classrooms.
“We would appreciate it if the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) could assist us with more classes, as this school is in high demand,” said Daniso.
A group of anxious parents in Khayelitsha were standing outside Inkanini Primary in the hopes that there was space for their children.
Meanwhile, community leaders and school management were in a closed meeting.
Schäfer said the WCED has made great progress in placing learners who applied for the 2022 school year in 2021.