Holidays over for inland pupils
Johannesburg - Children in public schools in South Africa's inland provinces start the new academic year on Wednesday, the last group in the country to return to their books.
Government schools in the Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West are starting the new term a week after schools in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Northern Cape and Western Cape - but will continue for a week longer before the next holiday.
Most independent schools across the country re-opened with the coastal government schools on January 11.
Only the central region (Gauteng, Free State, North West and Northern Cape) of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa publishes a term date calendar for all member schools. Independent schools in other regions follow the provincial government school calendar or their own calendars.
The first term for inland government schools will run until March 30 when schools break for the Easter holidays. Children will also have a break on March 21, Human Rights Day.
Coastal schools will break for Easter on March 23. All government schools will return for the second term on April 10.
Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy said this week the province would open 36 new government schools in 2012 to cope with increased demand for places. When schools open on Wednesday, 13 of these new schools will be ready for occupation.
Creecy said admissions for new grade one pupils started in August 2011. The province expected 209 000 6-year-olds to arrive for their first day.
In Limpopo a textbook crisis was looming as it emerged no books had been ordered for schools.
The SA Democratic Teachers' Union said last year there was uncertainty as to whether textbooks were ordered four days before the Limpopo provincial government, including its education department, was put under national administration by the Cabinet.
African National Congress Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga has asked ANC MPs to visit schools in their constituencies to "monitor, evaluate and verify" schools' planning and preparation.
Motshekga would join Gauteng Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe and other officials in the province on a visit to schools in Tembisa on Wednesday.