Teachers dressed in their red, black and white school colours ushered more than 100 pupils to the first prize-giving ceremony in the history of a Tafelsig container primary school last week.
Perseverance Primary School pupils, from Grades 1 to 3, walked from their school, in Rockies Street to their local community hall down the road for their inaugural prize-giving ceremony on Thursday November 29.
The mobile start-up primary school opened its doors in February this year to accommodate 170 pupils.
Principal Patriot Mazimela said since then two pupils have dropped out and three others have been transferred to other schools.
He told the Plainsman that most of the pupils attended his school because there was no place at other schools, they had social problems or had dropped out from other schools.
“Many of the pupils we have are over-aged. They are nine-years old, two-years-older than the required age for Grade 1,” he said.
“Many of them were not in Grade R and had never seen a school,” he said.
Mr Mazimela said while these challenges characterised the school, the pupils showed an eagerness to learn and an abundance of talent.
“It is the vision of the school to educate and create opportunities for these pupils – nurture these talents in extracurricular activities,” he said.
Mr Mazimela said the school was in need of energetic young teachers.
“All of the teachers are retirees and boarded teachers because there is a lack of foundation phase teachers in the Western Cape,” he said.
He said they have approached colleges to earmark graduate foundation phase teachers.
Mr Mazimela also said the school is in need of a feeding scheme, which the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has refused because it is a quintile 4 school.
The education authorities classify schools into five categories called quintiles, according to their relative poverty levels. The poorest schools are in Quintile 1 and the least poor in Quintile 5.
The relative poverty of the community surrounding the school determines the quintile.
All schools in Quintiles 1 to 3 are no-fee schools, in terms of national regulations.
Bronagh Hammond, communications director for the WCED, said only schools in quintiles 1 to 3 were eligible to be part of the feeding scheme.
She said when the school opened its doors, there was a scarcity of Foundation Phase teachers and therefore retirees were appointed on contract.
“Posts have been advertised and a new principal will be appointed in the new year. A head of department and two other post level 1 teachers have already been appointed,” she said.
Ms Hammond insisted the classrooms were mobile classes and not container classes.
She said five out of the 57 Grade 1 pupils were over-aged.
Children must be 7 years old when they are in Grade 1.
There are many pupils who have never previously been to a school.
“We simply cannot ignore these pupils and their education needs.
“The pupils have been assessed by specialised learner and educator support colleagues, from the department, to place them in the appropriate grade, and to taking their cognitive ability and the age cohort into consideration,” she said.
Clive Arries, principal of West End Primary School in Lentegeur and president of the Progressive Principals’ Association, encouraged pupils to reach for their dreams and to master the skill of reading.
He said a study has shown that pupils who can read fluently at age nine stand a better chance of matriculating.
“Reading is a skill, just like soccer or athletics, you get better by training,” he said.