The Department of Basic Education is ready to deliver basic and quality education, this as the nation prepares for the start of the new school year for inland schools on Wednesday, 9 January 2013. The Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and Deputy Minister Enver Surty will embark on school visits to various parts of the country to confirm readiness of schools to start the New Year.
"We are ready for Day 1", Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga declared. "We are ready to welcome about 1 million learners into the education system" she said.
The deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and Minister Motshekga will visit Pholosho Secondary School in Alexandra before heading to join the Nedbank Back to School Campaign at N'wa-Mhinga Primary School in Atteridgeville. Surty will be in the North West province.
The visits, to be supported by Senior Managers from the department as well as education experts, are also aimed at giving support to schools that have been identified as having challenges. The aim is to provide those schools with the necessary support, something that will go a long way towards helping them start the year on a good footing and improve on their performance in the year 2013 and beyond.
The focus of the school visits will be on key matters such as school readiness, supply and training of teachers; readiness to implement the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS); the state of registration of learners; delivery of textbooks and stationery; and the availability of learner transport and school nutrition to learners who qualify.
Workbooks have been delivered in most schools and schools are encouraged to alert the department of any unlikely shortages. Nationally the delivery rate is 98.8%, with maths and science books for this year being delivered from Grade 10-12.
Top-up textbooks will be delivered to schools within the first two weeks of school attendance, so as to minimise disruptions. The norms and standards allocation to schools is receiving attention from the minister, who will make the necessary announcement as soon as all factors pertaining to this matter are dealt with.
The readiness and availability of teachers to start teaching on day one is a key factor in determining the success with which schools will start the year. In this regard, all provinces have complied with the DBE's requirement to declare any vacant or extra posts available, this with the aim of determining the number of available teaching and management posts.
Some challenges have been experienced though, and these cut across all provinces. These include the late registration of learners, too many applications flocking to former model-c schools and space constraints in some schools because of overcrowding. There has also been the issue of forced closure of schools as experienced in the Western Cape. The department will allow due process to unfold and will give stakeholders the needed support to ensure that this matter doesn't disrupt provision of quality education as well as normal teaching and learning in schools in that province.
It is expected, as it has been the trend in the past years, that Gauteng will continue to experience an influx of learners coming from other provinces.
The preference of parents to take their kids to city schools and other affluent areas is another challenge facing the schooling system; which in most cases leads to the late finalisation of the registration process. Shortage of classrooms is continuing in Gauteng and efforts are being made to meet the demand, including building new schools and providing extra mobile classes where shortages are being experienced.
Provinces that have far-flung areas which are far from schools, will receive money to enable them to pay for scholar transport to address any shortages of transport for learners.