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Media Release

Tuesday, 10 September, 2002

WCED launches ‘Enrol Early’ campaign

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister

My Department (WCED) has launched an "Enrol Early" campaign to persuade parents to register their children for school next year well before the end of 2002.

This applies in particular to parents of children entering school for the first time, starting high school, or who are changing school next year.

We will do everything possible to ensure places for every child entering the school system next year, and that we have sufficient textbooks and other learner support materials to meet their needs.

Unfortunately, our schools cannot plan ahead properly if they don’t know how many children they must accommodate. Parents must help by ensuring that they register their children for school as soon as possible.

Regretfully, we waste precious teaching time every year registering children or trying to find places for them, when they should be in the classroom. We are committed to ensuring effective education for all, and appeal to parents to help us realise this vision.

We have launched this campaign to remind parents to enrol their children for school by 31 October if they have not already done so. Radio stations will broadcast this message frequently over the next two weeks, and we will distribute about 150 000 pamphlets in targeted areas.

We look forward to working with the media as we launch this campaign. By assisting us in our efforts to ensure a smooth start to the 2003 school year, the media will contribute significantly to improving the quality of education in the province.

Unfortunately, many parents imagine that next year is a long way off, and that they do not need to enrol their children yet. This is mistaken. The fact is that many schools are already full, or almost full, and may not be able to accommodate more children in 2003.

Parents have both rights and responsibilities when it comes to enrolling their children for school. Their responsibility starts by ensuring that their children are registered.

We will be running a related campaign later this year to draw attention to parents’ rights, for example, involving fee payments and exemptions, and any enrolment practice that could be seen as discriminatory. We will run this campaign in conjunction with the national Department of Education and our colleagues in other provinces.

We are asking parents to note the following:

  1. "Enrolled" does not mean "put on a waiting list" – it means enrolled. If a child is merely on a school’s waiting list, his or her parents have not completed the process of enrolment.
  2. Parents should register a child for Grade One if the child turns seven next year. They may register a child turning six before 30 June 2003 in Grade One, if the child is school ready. The school involved and the WCED will assess whether the child is school ready, using a specially prepared school readiness test.
  3. Parents experiencing difficulties in finding schools for their children can approach their local Education Management and Development Centre for assistance. Contact details for our EMDCs can be obtained from your nearest school.
  4. Unfortunately, some learners attempt every year to change schools using fraudulent report cards. Our policy on this practice is zero tolerance, and those found producing and using fraudulent report cards will be dealt with severely.

I would also like to urge schools to assist parents in making informed choices about mother tongue education. It is essential that parents be told that mother tongue education impacts on young children's cognitive abilities. I encourage all parents to make choices that will benefit their children's development.

We look forward to working with parents to ensure that every child of school-going age is in school on the first day of the 2003 school year.

We can only do this if parents enrol their children early.

Media inquiries:
Ruhan Robbertze
Cell: 082 577 6551
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