/ 10 January 2008

W Cape stands ready to open schools

The Western Cape does not have problems with either teacher numbers or places for pupils, provincial education minister Cameron Dugmore said on Thursday. He was speaking following reports of shortages in both areas in some inland provinces where schools opened this week.

Teachers return to Western Cape schools on January 14, and pupils two days later.

Dugmore said his office had been told on Thursday morning that 98,2% of all learner support material had already been delivered to schools. The missing material was destined for farm schools that had closed down, and now has to be redirected.

Nor is there a shortage of teachers; in fact, there has been a flood of applications for vacancies last year. ”From our perspective in the Western Cape we are confident that teacher supply is not a problem for us at this point in time,” he said.

Similarly, there are spaces for all pupils in the province’s schools this year.

Dugmore’s office is dealing with a number of appeals on behalf of pupils who have not been accepted at particular schools. Across the province, in all communities, some schools are more sought after than others.

Though few in number, the appeals are taken very seriously, he said. But, he said, ”accommodation is not a problem in the Western Cape”.

Dugmore said the department’s campaign to encourage early enrolment, aimed particularly at grades one and eight, appears to be producing results.

Early indications are that schools are doing very well in terms of grade-one enrolment, where about 80 000 pupils are expected.

All department officials of the rank of director and above will be making ”supportive” visits to schools on Wednesday, while provincial Premier Ebrahim Rasool and other provincial ministers will visit schools in 21 targeted areas where unemployment and poverty are worst. — Sapa