The first day of the inland schooling calendar saw newly-refurbished Setlabotjha Primary School in Emfuleni, south of Gauteng, welcoming learners for the 2022 academic year on Wednesday.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi unveiled that state-of-the-art school under strict Covid-19 restrictions.
Lesufi disclosed that as of Wednesday morning there were about 700 learners in the province who were still waiting to be placed at schools. But he promised to have them behind desks by the end of January.
“The head of department and the team are working extremely hard to complete this task,” Lesufi said.
But he was quick to say that kids not being placed in schools was not the department’s fault:
“We have been building beautiful schools in the townships, but there is this mentality that the township is bad and that former model C schools are good. The reality is that all our teachers are trained from the same pot, and I’m proud of the quality of teachers we have in this school,” Lesufi said.
He said it was a huge struggle to change the mentality that township education is poor quality education.
In partnership with the department of infrastructure, Lesufi vowed to continue eradicating mobile and asbestos schools, and to build schools of the future with smart boards, tablets and connectivity.
“We are proud that we don’t have schools with pit toilets or without electricity,” he said.
Lesufi also disclosed that about 95% of Gauteng educators have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
“It is a demonstration that our teachers are putting our children first and are ready to protect our children,” he said.
He also applauded children above the age of 12 who had received the vaccine.
Makhura thanked all education stakeholders, teachers and parents “who have worked extremely hard, despite the disruptive impact of Covid-19, to try and maintain some decent education and learning”.
“We are ready to start academic year 2022. The outlook for Covid-19 is something we can’t be certain of, but we are happy that all the numbers and indications have been declining.”
He said that this academic year should be different as the province had learnt lessons from 2020 and 2021 under the pandemic.
Setlabotjha Primary School in numbers:
- The renovations to the infrastructure cost R95 million;
- The school accommodates 1 200 students and staff;
- It features one library, two science labs and two multipurpose centres;
- It boasts 31 classrooms, five of which are for Grade R learners and 26 for foundation and intermediate classes.