Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 19 January 2009

Interim plans ensure smooth school return

By Gugu Mbonambi

Despite numerous challenges the department of education has announced it is confident that teaching will begin on the first day of the school calendar, Wednesday, in all KwaZulu-Natal’s government schools.

The department said it would provide tents as an interim measure to schools in the province that were destroyed by recent thunderstorms. Education spokesperson Mbali Thusi said all reported problems relating to schools would be attended to and dealt with as emergencies, especially at schools severely damaged during the storm.
            “Project managers will be visiting all affected schools to assess the extent of the damage. The damage varies from one school to the other, which makes it difficult to determine when all the affected schools will be repaired. Other reports will also start trickling in when schools reopen on Wednesday.”

However, the department was working on estimated figures, which could not be released because there were pending reports from district offices.

The department held a pupil admission campaign last year appealing to parents to ensure that their children were registered by November. This contingency plan was set up to address the problem of late registration and the migration of pupils from one school to another.
            “The campaign was also to ensure that the first day of schooling is devoted to teaching and learning,” said Thusi.

Grade one pupils who are 5 years old and will turn six by June in the year of admission will be admitted to any public school and will be required to participate in all school activities.

Lindiwe Dladla, a grade 10 to 12 teacher at Sobonakhona High School in Umbumbulu, said teachers still needed additional training on the new outcomes based educational system.
            “The five days’ training the department provided for us was not enough, and what is worse is that those who trained us were struggling too. We ended up organizing our own training workshops, which proved to be very fruitful.”

Dladla said there should be pressure on teachers from the grade eight level. The department tended to apply more pressure on grade 12 teachers, forgetting that grade 8 to 10 was the foundation phase.

Education MEC Ina Cronje has promised that when schools open, 3 122 non-section-21 schools – those whose finances are managed by the department – will have their textbooks and stationery. This figure represents 99 percent of non-section-21 schools in the province.
            “We have already reached 98,5 percent delivery of books for this year,” said Cronje.

She said the outstanding 1,5 percent was because of publishers not being able to fulfill orders – some of which had been placed as early as July 24 last year.
            “The stride in the delivery of textbooks has moved form 40 percent in 2006, 80 percent in 2007, 95 percent in 2008 and 98,5 percent delivery for the 2009 academic year. The department has indeed sustained the momentum in the delivery of learning and teaching support materials and has surpassed its own targets set.”

There has also been a steady increase in learning and teaching support materials budget allocation over the past four years and additional funds had been allocated to selected grades in an attempt to ensure that each pupil would eventually have a textbook for each subject or learning area.
            “A system is however being developed to assist the department in monitoring and ensuring that all section 21 schools have used the learning and teaching support materials budget allocation appropriately and have procured text-books and stationery for all learners.”