Full steam for KZN schools

2014-01-16 00:00

MANY KwaZulu-Natal schools dived right in yesterday when they opened their gates for pupils for the 2014 academic year.

At Menzi High School in Umlazi, Durban, a Grade 11 class cramped with 70 pupils had already written their maths exercise when The Witness dropped by.

Despite the school not having proper amenities — such as ceilings or labs — its pupils still manage to bag distinctions. The school prides itself for having dedicated teachers. It is said to have turned away about 800 applicants.

In the morning, life sciences teacher Cyril Muziwandile Mthembu had already given his class an overview of his subject.

“I told them to expect something different and that it might get a bit challenging, but not a problem.”

Grade One teacher at Gordon Road Girls’ Primary School Shamila Ramlall said teachers are usually as anxious as the beginners on the first day of school.

“We want to see the children develop. It’s wonderful to work with children and nurture them,” Ramlall said.

Durban Preparatory High School principal Hank Pike yesterday gave a thumbs up and said they have been planning the 2014 academic year since last year.

By 8 am, the boys were already in class being taught.

At the Open Air School in Glenwood, principal Noel Moodley said their admission process went smoothly. He said enrolment at their special needs school has increased.

“Even my deputies are in class teaching,” he said.

While things seemed to have run smoothly in the province, the unions raised concerns about the “culture” of late registration.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said most schools in the suburban areas and townships got off to a great start.

Spokesperson Anthony Pierce said they surveyed school readiness and about 100 schools indicate challenges with physical infrastructure.

“A number of schools have reported leaking roofs, burst pipes, missing taps illegally removed during the school break, toilet and classroom shortages, and collapsed boundary walls.”

Other issues raised in the survey included late registration.

“More than 50% of the respondents indicated that parents were sitting outside the school office awaiting admission for their children,” said Pierce.

Naptosa said it seems that the KZN Education Department prepared timeously for the new school year.

Pierce said most schools have reported that effective teaching started by 8.30 am, while a few schools were still in the process of distributing pupil support materials.

“What remains to be seen is whether the entire system is able to implement the revised curriculum,” he said.

He complained about poor training of teachers in 2013 in the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

National Teachers’ Union (Natu) deputy president Allen Thompson said day one went very well, except for children who flocked to schools late to register.

However, he urged schools to enrol as many pupils as the floor space allows.

“We’d rather have children in classrooms than learning under a tree.”

Natu was also disturbed about the schools that re-opened with no teachers.

He said some of the teachers went on sick leave last year November and principals could not employ substitute teachers because the department has barred schools from appointing them due to financial constraints.

KZN South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) deputy secretary Dolly Chiliza said textbooks were delivered at all the schools they visited.

However, she maintains that even though most schools try by all means to finalise their registration by the end of October, there are still parents who register their children on the first day of schooling.

KZN Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said the department was pleased with the first day of school and that teachers were in class teaching.

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