Minister encourages talks to resolve Hoerskool Overvaal matter

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has encouraged parties, involved in the issue of 55 additional students who were allegedly denied enrolment at Hoerskool Overvaal in Vereeniging, to sit down and discuss the matter instead of fighting it in court.

“Let’s not go and fight with ourselves on matters that we can resolve because it creates unnecessary tension and animosity,” said Minister Motshekga on Sunday.

The Minister was updating the media on education matters following the department’s Lekgotla last week.

Minister Motshekga said the right of Afrikaans as a language of instruction has never been questioned, and she has never raised any argument about it.

She emphasised the need to deal with issues raised by the North Gauteng High Court which included administration challenges.

“Let’s deal with issues raised by the judge, and not take the matters out of context. The judge raised administrative matters, and let’s see if we can address them. The school must have English books and English teachers, who must be able to run on parallel,” Minister Motshekga said.

Challenges in school admissions

Giving an update on the school admissions, Minister Motshekga said almost all provinces are confronted by similar challenges, with Gauteng and the Western Cape being the most affected.

“These challenges lead to the sector’s inability to place all learners who have applied to be placed in schools on time for the start of the school year in January. Despite all efforts by the sector to have learners admitted and registered in school before the end of the year, Provincial Education Departments are still inundated with late applications for registration.

“The challenge is worse with the migration of children from rural to big cities during the December holidays, who never return to their rural homes. Some of the children arrive in cities during the middle or end of January without having made any applications to any school. 

“Parents in rural areas normally do not apply to register their children in schools until the schools open in January [and] late admission and registration affect the commencement of teaching and learning on the first day,” the Minister said.

She said the department has since January applied a strategy to address the challenge of learners who apply for administration to schools at the beginning of an academic year.

This includes stopping schools from dealing with admission during school contact time and referring all late admissions to district offices to direct applicants to identified schools that have vacancies by taking consideration of proximity and curriculum offering.

“We are monitoring the situation in provinces and most have managed to significantly reduce the number of unplaced learners since the start of school, with Gauteng and the Western Cape still having the highest number of unplaced learners.”

Day Zero plans

Minister Motshekga said that the department was concerned about the status of schools in the event of Day Zero in the Western Cape.

She said the department is liaising with the province to get a sense of what their plans are in the now quite likely event that the City of Cape Town or the province runs out of water.

“We are working with the Western Cape team to have guidelines for water saving in schools. We also use schools to further communicate the message on the impact of Day Zero so that schools don’t find themselves without running water.

“Schools are well placed to contribute to water saving, given the learner population in the Western Cape. They are also well placed to educate families about water saving, via their children,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape Government has indicated that it plans to keep schools open in the event of Day Zero. The provincial government has assessed about 400 schools with existing boreholes, some of which need fixing to ensure water for hygiene and fire safety purposes.

Plans are being finalised for schools that need additional support to secure their water supply. The provincial government is considering a range of measures, including additional water storage and water distribution to schools. –

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