Western Cape schools full

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said every child of school-going age must attend school. If parents or guardians have not applied they must contact their nearest district office. Pictured are pupils of Oval North High School.

All Western Cape schools are full as pupils are set to start class on Wednesday January 17.

Since December last year, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has allocated 120 778 places, which is 99.43% of pupils who applied for Grades 1 and 8 for this school year.

Placement is in progress for 688, or 0.56%, of Grade 1 and 8 pupils, said Bronagh Hammond, said the WCED spokesperson.

“Despite a R716.4 million blow to our budget, we are fighting hard to expand the number of places available at schools in the Western Cape,” she said.

It’s important that every child attends school. If parents or guardians have not applied they need to contact their nearest district office, she said.

“We understand that this is a stressful and anxious period for these parents. As a department, we are asking parents to work with us as we try to accommodate their children as soon as possible. We are exploring all available options to find a place for these pupils for the start of the school year,” she said.

Ten new schools will be built to accommodate those still applying this year, as well as additional classrooms in areas of high demand, she said.

“In total, our revised plan aims to deliver 608 additional classrooms across the province, which is still more than double the average number built annually before 2022/2023, despite the infrastructure budget cut,” she said.

“Our officials and schools are working hard under extreme pressure to make sure that they find a place for every child. We will continue to work to finalise placement for all remaining pupils whose parents have already applied,” she said.

The WCED said they put in great effort to encourage parents to apply in time for admission between March and April last year.

Despite this, the WCED is aware that some pupils will arrive in the first term needing placement which makes planning their resource allocation for late applications difficult as parents will have to wait some time before their child is placed, she said.

“We appeal for patience from parents submitting new applications as they may not be placed before the end of the first term,” said Ms Hammond.

She said parents and guardians can prepare for the new school year by ensuring that they read all relevant documentation from the school regarding school hours, uniform and stationery requirements, meal requirements and extra mural activity schedules.

Portland High School principal Ridwaan Williams said, in preparing for this school year, pupils must be intentional.

“Make a commitment to do your best and improve to the best of your abilities. Make school a priority, be respectful, be resilient and set clear goals for your academics. If you are repeating a grade, put yourself first and come back stronger,” he said.

Parents and guardians should continue to cheer their children on through the school year. “Talk about school regularly. Work with teachers, they are your partners. Be financially responsible and help your child balance their lives with school, socially and spiritually,” he said.

Matric results are set to be released on Friday January 19.

Mr Williams encouraged those who might not be successful.

“Whatever the results, this is not the end of your learning experience. This certificate opens up possibilities for you. To those unsuccessful, there’s an opportunity to rewrite in June to pass matric,” he said.

Teacher at Oval North High School, Athina Dennis said parents can help their child in creating a plan of action for their school year and future.

“Make sure that pupils come dressed for school. Limit social and screen time to prepare their mindset and practise respect towards one another,” she said.

The class of 2023 should not stress about their results but “trust in God that everything you put in will come to fruition. It is the courage to continue that matters,” she said.

“We wish all pupils, parents, guardians and staff a successful school year,” said Ms Dennis.