Gauteng expects learner influx

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Education is ready to deal with an influx of late learner registrations when schools open on Wednesday.

The department is expecting thousands of pupils who either recently moved to Gauteng or missed the registration dates at the end of last year to enrol tomorrow, departmental spokesperson Charles Phahlane told BuaNews.

He said the department would give more attention to the placement of Grade R pupils who would be starting school for the first time.

"Mobile classrooms are on stand-by for deployment to various areas where there are space pressures. We have bought 200 mobile classrooms for Grade R, and 156 more are on standby," he said.

Parents who have difficulty admitting their children, should not hesitate to approach district offices, said Phahlane, adding that they would need to provide their name, ID number, contact details, child's name, child's date of birth, grade and the area in which schooling is required.

The department has put other measures in place to ensure that the beginning of the 2010 school year goes off without glitches.

"I can affirm that most Gauteng schools will be ready to begin the first term of teaching tomorrow without major setbacks," Phahlane said.

Regarding the readiness of teaching material, Phahlane said Education MEC Barbara Creecy had in November visited more than 2000 public schools to assess their needs.

"We identified various problems and interventions were embarked on to deal with the problem areas," said Phahlane.

The MEC's team assessed the schools based on the delivery of learner-teacher materials, staffing, pupil registration, academic preparation such as timetables and class lists and the state of physical infrastructure such as desks, cleanliness and maintenance.

In a bid to deal with the shortage of teachers in the province, a general vacancy list is being filled across the province, especially for teachers of maths, science, English and Afrikaans.

"In addition, we are working closely with the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre to donate their graduates to help out at the province's schools as part of their practical training."

The province's matrics performed poorly in maths and science, which MEC Creecy has blamed on poorly trained teachers who were unable to teach the whole curriculum, as well as a lack of accountability within the education department.

The matric results for Gauteng declined from 76.4 percent in 2008 to 71.8percent in 2009 - a 5 percent drop.

The department, said Phahlane, is to conduct an analysis to identify subjects, schools and districts for targeted intervention. He said plans are already in place to extend Saturday school and holiday class programmes to learners in underperforming schools.

Meanwhile, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane will be visiting schools across Gauteng, to monitor the first day of schooling as well as give School Governing Bodies and communities a chance to engage her on the challenges facing schools in their area.