This morning, Premier Alan Winde joined me for a visit to Starling Primary School, to celebrate the start of the 2023 school year and welcome learners back to school in the Western Cape.
Starling Primary is one of our full-service inclusive schools, and Acting Principal Renjeni Chetty welcomed learners to school, saying: “As the staff of Starling Primary School, we are ready, geared up and enthusiastic for lift off to engage in teaching, guiding and assisting our learners to reach their potential holistically.”
1.2 million learners head to school today, including nearly 92 000 Grade 1s heading to “big school”, and over 96 000 Grade 8s heading to high school. 35 872 teachers and 7 578 public service staff will be on hand to support them.
The Department has been hard at work helping our schools prepare for the start of the school year. All top up textbooks ordered by schools were delivered by October 2022, at a cost of R62 million. In addition, stationery supplies to the value of R39 million, furniture to the value of R50 million, and other equipment to the value of R1.6 million were also delivered by December 2022.
We have also completed 561 additional classrooms in time for the first day of schools, as part of our unprecedented school infrastructure delivery programme. And we have added an additional 1 143 teaching posts so that our new classrooms have teachers to teach in them.
We have made incredible progress in placement, placing over 50 000 more learners than this time last year. We have now placed 99.2% of our Grade 1 and 8 learners.
Premier Winde wished all learners the very best for the new academic year, saying: “I urge you to all work hard, but also be kind to yourselves and your fellow learners. Take pride in your schools and do you very best. And to our parents: thank you for being our partners in securing our learners’ futures by registering on time, supporting your learner and holding us to account. To our teachers, other school staff and Western Cape Education Department officials, I commend you for the important work that you do in offering our learners dignified places of teaching and learning.”
This is the first year since the Covid-19 pandemic started that schools are opening with full attendance and regular timetables. But while the school day is back to standard operations, we will still feel the impact of the learning losses caused by the pandemic for many years to come.
We will therefore continue to support our teachers who are doing the hard work of getting our learners #BackOnTrack, and we thank them for the love and care that they show the children of the Western Cape every day.
We wish all of our learners, staff members, and parents, the very best for the year ahead!
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Western Cape Education Department, South Africa.