Flurry of problems as schools reopen

2012-01-14 15:58

Schools in five inland provinces are reopening on Wednesday amid a number of unresolved problems which threaten the education of thousands of pupils this year. This comes after coastal schools reopened this week with reported shortages of, among others, books, furniture and teachers.

Problems of temporary teachers and scholar transport are threatening the smooth reopening of schools on Wednesday. The provincial education department and teacher unions are meeting on Tuesday to discuss how temporary teachers – still in limbo – will be placed.

Last year, the department failed to pay 4 212 temporary teachers for two months after they were removed from the persal (payment) system when their contracts expired in December 2010.

But the department insists that about 2 000 teachers have already been placed.

In the Gert Sibande and Bohlabela regions, transport operators doubt they will transport pupils to school because they have not been paid for four months. They were all removed and replaced with a single company which did not have the 300 required buses for the job. The company then sub-contracted bus operators.

Department spokesperson Jasper Zwane said discussions with bus operators were ongoing and
that they expected operators to start working on Wednesday. – By Sizwe sama Yende

Free State
The provincial education department said books linked to the new curriculum and assessment policy statement (Caps) were being delivered to enable schools to be prepared to start teaching on Wednesday.

Spokesperson Howard Ndaba said the department will urgently address vacancies at schools for smoother reopening and that departmental senior managers were deployed to regions to monitor the situation.

“We expect to cover more than 70% of schools in the first three days of reopening,” Ndaba said.

“There were fewer parents expected to flood schools to look for places for their children, since they had responded well to the registration campaign that was launched last year. The campaign encouraged parents to make sure their children are registered before schools closed for the December holidays.” – By Cathy Dlodlo

Eastern Cape

As a condition for her child to be enrolled, a parent had to buy a chair for her child. Meanwhile, a school principal had to cancel preparations to feed children on their first day of school last Wednesday because of a lack of funds. Most rural schools reported that children were not brought to school because of problems with scholar transport.

Just a day before schools reopened, the provincial education bosses, MEC Mandla Makupula and head of department Modidima Mannya, conceded that they were not ready for the new school year.

Makupula and Mannya, as reported by the Daily Dispatch, told the education portfolio committee on Tuesday that officials were working in districts tobavert a looming teacher, furniture and stationery crisis.

Other problems experienced this week include the non-delivery of new Caps material at primary schools and the unresolved issue of temporary teachers – who are still to be employed despite numerous court orders.

Loyiso Pulumani, the provincial education spokesperson, said a process was in place to employ 500 of the more than 4 000 temporary teachers. – By Sabelo Skiti

Some children in rural areas still have to swim across a river to get to school, while parents have resorted to underhand dealings to get their children into better schools.

In rural Msinga, children swim across a river to get to school because there is no bridge linking their village to schools. In Durban, queuing parents were busted trying to smuggle their children into schools without registering them.

A parent, who was trying to find space for his daughters, claimed that a teacher at Durban Girls’ Secondary School told him to buy his children uniforms to gain entry without registering. This, the father said, was because it would be hard for the school to send the children away once they were inside. But the plan failed and the girls were sent away weeping and joined the other hopefuls, who had been camping outside the school. “My children were being educated in a rural school in Kwandengezi and I felt they were not getting the best education,” said the father, who works as a security guard.

Teacher unions say late applications were a yearly problem that was exacerbated by the exodus in township schools because of the belief that former Model C schools were better. – By Sphumelele Mngoma

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