Noordkaap Bulletin

NC education department ready for new school year

The Northern Cape Department of Education has developed a school readiness management plan, and is prepared for the new school year.
The Northern Cape Department of Education has developed a school readiness management plan, and is prepared for the new school year.
Photo: Unsplash

Due to its state of readiness, learning and teaching in the Northern Cape will be able to commence on the first day of schooling on Wednesday, 18 January.

The Northern Cape Department of Education has developed a school readiness management plan to assure this, said Geoffrey van der Merwe, media liaison officer.

This plan includes the registration of learners ahead of the start of the new academic year to minimise disruptions to learning and teaching, the procuring of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) ahead of the opening of schools to make sure they are ready for distribution to learners in the first week of schools re-opening, and making sure that all schools have the necessary teachers for all grades and subjects at the start of the academic year.

Van der Merwe said the department is in its fourth year of implementing the Online Admission System, which for the 2023 academic year catered for Gr. R, Gr. 1 and Gr. 8 due to their status as entry grades.

For the remaining grades, parents applied directly at the schools of their choice.

Most of the functions on this system are automated, inclusive of the daily placement reports. Standardised reports are now available on the system, allowing for easy access to data and, as such, planning for the placement of the outstanding learners.

A total of 27 318 applications were received: 10 285 Gr. R, 2 799 Gr. 1, and 13 695 Gr. 8 learners applied on the online system.

“The department managed to place 99% of the applicants, with only 280 unplaced learners remaining as at 10 January. Our team is working around the clock to have these learners placed before the 18th,” Van der Merwe said.

The department regards LTSM as an integral and vital part of the education system and regards the provisioning of textbooks for every learner in the schooling system a priority.

In the Northern Cape, the function to procure LTSM resides with the schools, and all the 545 public ordinary schools received their LTSM allocation in September.

The key focus areas in the monitoring of LTSM provisioning are on the distribution of workbooks, textbooks and stationery; the availability of Braille materials and other assistive devices in special schools; and the availability and effectiveness of the implementation of textbook retrieval policies.

According to Van der Merwe, schools were provided with an option to procure textbooks centrally or directly from suppliers. A total of 343 schools opted to procure textbooks centrally.

Schools, as part of their Section 21 functions, manage all their funding, but the department has systems in place to assist schools to procure textbooks at a much cheaper rate than what they usually would.

Delivery of LTSM to schools stands at 99% and will be completed before schools reopen.

Learner transport

Learner transport is intended for the poor, farm, rural, and special school learners where access to a school poses a challenge.

Learners must attend the nearest suitable school to their residence.

Also, learners do not qualify for learner transport where the nearest suitable school is situated within a radius of five km and below of the parents’ or guardians’ residence.

“We have finalised all the routes and we can confirm that learner transport will only be provided to learners that qualify,” Van der Merwe said.

Learner transport is currently provided for 25 705 learners from 265 schools on 442 routes operated by 236 service providers across all five districts.

“All 442 routes will be operational when the schools reopen.”

Staff establishments

On 16 September, all schools in the province were issued with their 2023 educator staff establishments.

Schools in the Northern Cape are allocated educator posts based on their number of learners for that particular year based on a ratio of 1:32 in public ordinary schools, and a 1:12 ratio in special schools.

A total of 406 promotional posts were advertised, with 268 being filled, 11 posts lost due to a drop in learner numbers at schools and 102 posts are in the process of being re-advertised, while 25 posts are still outstanding.

The department has 1 795 temporary educators in the system.

The appointments are in the process of being effected to ensure that all educators are paid at the end of January.

More than 53 Funza Lushaka graduates have also been made available by the Department of Basic Education for placement in the Northern Cape.

Support visits to schools

Several senior officials of various departments will be deployed to schools on Wednesday to monitor, amongst other, admissions and registrations, school management planning, teacher provisioning, learning and teaching resources, and basic infrastructure.

“A school represents a beacon of hope in every community where we prepare learners for success. We wish all educators, learners and support staff at schools well with the 2023 academic year as we will raise the bar of education in the Northern Cape,” Van der Merwe concluded.

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