Pupils in makeshift class

Tafelsig pupils awaiting placement at school are, from left, Zarn Marcus, 8, his brother Zoën, 10, Jasper Mashama-Fortune, 3, and Gaynor Marcus, 6, hoping to attend Grade R next term. In front are Glisten Paulse, 5, Dyllia Stevens, 6, and Moegamat Amien Gertse, 5, due to attend school soon.

Seven Hyde Park children who missed the first three years of primary school have finally stepped into a classroom.

Community activist Reva Fortune and now principal started an informal school across the road from her house, to address the needs of children who had never been placed at primary school.

On Monday February 27 SAPS, municipal officials, metro police, law enforcement, fire and rescue, environmental health and the metal unit inspected Ms Fortune’s licensed scrapyard in Stella Street, on the same premises where the makeshift classrooms were located (“Inspection at Tafelsig scrapyard” Plainsman March 1).

The one classroom was in a container and another inside of a house.

A municipal official had advised Ms Fortune to apply for consent because they had more than six children on the property.

The Plainsman also sent enquiries to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) asking whether they were aware of the “makeshift” school and about the placement of pupils.

Ms Fortune told the Plainsman that since the inspection seven of the 15 pupils had been placed at Perseverance Primary School, in Tafelsig West.

She explained that the other seven pupils were not yet school going age and that a 15-year-old girl, was too old for school and too young to attend adult basic education and training (ABET).

Tafelsig pupils awaiting placement at school are, from left, Zarn Marcus, 8, his brother Zoën, 10, Jasper Maschona-Fortune, 3, and Gaynor Marcus, 6, hoping to attend Grade R next term. In front are teacher Shirley Jongbloed, Glisten Paulse, 5, Dyllia Stevens, 6, and Moegamat Amien Gertse, 5, and principal Reva Fortune.

“A lot still needs to be done for the community of Tafelsig,” she said.

She said that children needed to be assessed before being placed at schools.

“Parents need to play their part and take responsibility to do something for their children,” she said.

Ms Fortune said many of the parents were either on drugs, unemployed or illiterate.

“Many of the children do not have birth certificates; their clinic books (Road to health booklets) are not up to date; and many parents do not have money to take a taxi to Town Centre and then another taxi to Lentegeur,” she said.

In recent weeks donors rallied to clothe the seven pupils with uniforms.

Principal Reva Fortune, Jamie Lee Toontjies, 9, Jaydene Paulse, 8, and her brother Jayson, 12.

Ms Fortune said the pupils needed much more than clothing.

It was about giving them back their dignity, respect and pride to know “I am worthy to be loved and to learn”.

“Many parents who do register their children at school do not have food on their tables and you can’t teach a hungry child. They need our support and our hand to give them a jacket, umbrella or a pair of shoes to make it to school dry, in winter,” she said.

Teacher Shirley Jongbloed said seeing the children holding their heads high while going to school was priceless.

“These are good kids and we need to help them to be their best,” she said.

The WCED is the process of accepting online applications for pupils to attend school next year.

The online application process closes at midnight on Friday April 14.

The department advised that parents apply early; to more than one school; check the admission policies of the schools; that schools may not use their own forms or online systems for applications; and that they may not request any additional information from parents that are not in line with the South African Schools Act, the Admissions Policy for Public Ordinary Schools, or the Protection of Personal Information Act.

Department spokesperson Bronagh Casey said they placed six pupils at school.

The oldest pupil to be in class for the first time was 11-years-old.

“The guardians of the learner have never brought the learner to the district for assessment and placement. The learner has subsequently been placed. The longest other case is 2 years,” she said.

As stipulated in the South African Schools Act of 1996, all children, aged between 7 and 15, are compelled to attend school. Ms Casey said that parents and guardians should ensure that all pupils of this age are registered to go to school and that their children attend school regularly.

“It is the responsibility of every parent and guardian to ensure that their children attend school,” she said.

She appealed to parents who wished to apply for the 2024 school year to do so now before April 14.

Applicants must submit their last official school report card; results of the pupil for pupils who have been to school; identity, birth certificate, passport or study permit (for foreign pupils); proof of application (study permit) or a police affidavit; immunisation card (Road to Health Chart) for primary school only; and proof of residence.

Should they not have access to the documents above, then they must contact the district office.

The WCED has arranged for pop-up help centres for parents who are unable to access technology or need assistance making an application. The list of all schools in the province can be found at https://wcedonline.westerncape.gov.za/admissions-202324.

Mitchell’s Plain pop-ups include Metro South Education District (MSED) office, in AZ Berman Drive Lentegeur, and their satellite office off Merrydale Avenue in Lentegeur on on Saturday March 25

Should children be assessed as a result of not attending school for a long period, then the parent must contact the MSED office.