Tears, nerves on first day of school

2012-01-18 14:45

A scared-looking six-year-old Naledi Zwane held on tightly to her mother’s arms which were wrapped around her against the cold morning breeze.

The pair stood in a corner on the school’s corridor amid the pacing of teachers and the other parents and children trying to find their way.

The hundreds of first-time scholars were clearly ill-prepared for the gloomy weather as was evident through the sea of white shirts standing in queues to greet their new teachers and others scrambling to find their way through unfamiliar school grounds.

Slightly annoyed, Naledi’s mum, Sibongile said: “I told her father to bring her jersey along for her when we left but he said ‘no, it’s going to be warm’, now I have to go back home and fetch it for her.”
 
Today was Naledi’s first day at Cosmo City Primary School 1.

Until the community of Cosmo City decides on names for their primary and high schools, they all remain primaries and secondaries number 1, 2, 3, and so on.

Cosmo City is a developing residential area a few kilometres north west of Johannesburg’s city centre.

While Naledi was cold, she wasn’t scared.

“I’m nervous of meeting my mistress, I hope she likes me,” she said smiling shyly.

Others could not hide their tears and nerves. Grade R learner Bongani Ntuli (5) broke out in tears as soon as he was asked by his teacher if he was okay.

Bongani wailed as his new teacher held him and attempted to wipe away the tears.

The most he could get out was, “I want to go back home to my mum.”

As many parents nervously clutched their children’s hands in the corridors, one Grade 4 teacher shouted: “Bye parents, please leave our children now, thank you! Learners, we don’t stand here, please go to your classes. Look, some of you are so late!”

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, who visited Cosmo City Primary and Itirele Zenzele Secondary School, brought on cheers by handing out school uniforms to those at the school deemed to be most in need and sang along to songs before giving a speech in the assembly area.

Mokonyane told them they were the Nelson Mandelas of the future and they needed to work hard from day one.

Fifty school uniform kits were sponsored by the Department of Social Development to children at Cosmo City Primary.

At Itirele Zenzele Secondary, formerly Diepsloot Secondary, male learners were still helping with moving books and stationery from the administration office at around 10am.

The school was opening on its newly built premises after the department moved it about five kilometres south of Diepsloot because of transportation problems which led to pupils being late for school.

Donald Sibanda (20), who hoped to matriculate this year, said: “This new school is great and different – there’s a sports ground and the classes have chalkboards. We didn’t have that at the other school.”

A Grade 8 learner, Sifiso Kubeka (14), who already had four new friends around him, said he was impressed with the school. “I don’t know about the teachers yet but it looks like one of the best schools in the area and I’m looking forward to playing more soccer because I want to be a professional soccer player.”

Mokonyane said the Gauteng education department spent R70 million on building the new school which included sports facilities which the previous grounds didn’t have.

Mokonyane said the education department would spend R26 billion on education this year, which would go to covering 1 453 bursaries, among other things.

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