This morning, Premier Alan Winde joined me for a visit to Westcott Primary School to welcome learners and staff back to school for the 2024 school year.
The school year kicks off for 537 learners at Westcott Primary today, including 55 Grade Rs and 74 Grade 1s at the start of their school career. The school staff members were on hand to wipe away any tears, including from the parents!
We have just completed 7 brand new classrooms and 2 ablution blocks at the school to help meet some of the demand for places. This exciting project was completed in just 4 months, which is a fantastic achievement that would not be possible without the hard work of the school staff and governing body, our officials, and our contractors.
Principal Amanda Fortuin expressed the school’s optimism for the year ahead, saying:
“As principal of this beautiful school, I yearn for a future where every child thrives. My wish is that every learner at Westcott Primary learns from the best teachers and experiences the very best of what school life has to offer. I want our school to grow, and excel towards a brighter, empowered future for all.”
1.2 million learners are starting the year in our public schools today, including 93 000 Grade 1s, and 98 000 Grade 8s. We have 28 600 teachers and 7 300 public service staff members in our public schools this year, and we appreciate the work they do every day supporting our learners.
We make a special appeal to parents to ensure that their children are at school every day, on time, ready and willing to learn. We encourage parents to play an active role in the life of their child’s school and support the work of our teachers.
Our officials and schools have been working hard to ensure that we are ready for the new school year, by procuring R49 million in textbooks, R24 million in stationery, R17.5 million in furniture and R2 million in equipment, so it is all systems go for the new school year!
Our #BackOnTrack extra classes for learners and training for teachers will start up again in February, to reverse learning losses and give our children a better future in the Western Cape.
Our Rapid School Build programme continues to expand the number of places available at schools in our province, and additional classrooms and schools are reaching completion every week. Despite a massive R716.4 million blow to our budget, we are still building 10 new schools and 3 replacement schools for new learners joining us this year, including 2 for learners with special needs.
We have already placed around 120 000 Grade 1 and 8 learners, and we will continue our efforts to place the remaining learners seeking places at our schools, including the extremely late applicants arriving at our district offices daily. We ask for patience as we reallocated resources to where they are needed, and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to place learners.
Premier Winde wished all Western Cape learners, teachers, school support staff, parents, and guardians the best for the new academic year, saying:
“To all our Grade 1s, this is the start of an exciting journey. It is all right to be a little nervous. Take it all in your stride and do your best. To our Grade 12 class of 2024, I urge you all to knuckle down and work as hard as you can. At the same time, take time out to enjoy your last year in school. To all our learners, take pride in your schools, and respect one another and your teachers. They work exceptionally hard to give you quality education to prepare you for your future.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Western Cape Government: Department of the Premier.