Cape Town - With approximately 1.1 million pupils starting the 2022 academic year in the Western Cape, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer visited schools to celebrate the start of the academic year.
As a means of addressing concerns over unplaced pupils, the department plans on creating extra places for pupils throughout the year by approving additional teaching posts, adding extra classrooms, refurbishing existing classrooms, and constructing schools.
Schäfer's spokesperson, Kerry Mauchline said that the department was in a much better position than last year and was making over 18 000 extra places for learners available throughout this year.
“We anticipate that two new mobile schools (in Bothasig and Fisantekraal) will be completed by the end of the first term. Four additional schools are under construction and will be completed during the course of this year in Nomzamo, Klapmuts (a primary and a high school), and Silversands.
“We have unfortunately already started receiving reports about buildings damaged by theft and vandalism over the school holidays. I urge schools to report any such incidents to Safe Schools as soon as possible.
“I wish our learners and school staff the very best for the year ahead. The pandemic is far from over, and while our schools have shown much resilience during this pandemic, the learning losses, together with ongoing rotation, is a heavy burden to carry. It is thus fitting that the WCED’s theme for 2022 is “The year of learning: Leadership driving resilience”, and the Department will be focused on driving resilience and well-being with the necessary support structures in place this year,” said Mauchline.
Executive director of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa, Basil Manuel said that while the pandemic presented a lot of challenges, there were also still opportunities to learn from it, in order to move forward.
“What we've learnt from the pandemic is much more than what we knew. We need to start talking about how we can move forward and return to normality. I know the pandemic is still with us and I know there are some challenges, but I don't believe we can continue to put our children through such a massive impact.
“We need to reassess and take advantage of the golden opportunity to re-look at the curriculum. What Covid-19 has taught us is that there is a lot of fat that can be trimmed, unnecessary things. But it has also challenged us to look at the 21st century technologies, and that is where we need to be going, not throwing everything out, but we've also got to put a lot more into improving the ability of our teaching core. To teach reading because that is where big gaps lie, in primary schools, in the junior classes. And we know that if reading is not sorted, then they will suffer for the entire schooling career,” said Manuel.