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Media Release

17 January, 2007

Smooth start to 2007 school year

Joint media statement by Premier Ebrahim Rasool and education MEC Cameron Dugmore on the opening of schools

The first day of school in the Western Cape has, despite a few problems, run relatively smoothly. Some 930,000 learners have been admitted to schools across the province and the Government of the Western Cape is satisfied that learning has already started in earnest.

The Education Department has done its utmost to and largely succeeded in ensuring that all schools have the required learning materials to start work from the first day of school.

Premier Ebrahim Rasool, who visited several schools in the Oudtshoorn area with Deputy Education Minister Enver Surty and Provincial Education MEC Cameron Dugmore, has expressed his satisfaction that schools in the Western Cape are ready for the challenge of producing good results.

Said Premier Rasool: "I want to urge learners, teachers, parents and education officials to ensure that they get on with the job of ensuring that our schools produce matriculants who are prepared for the task of making our province, country and world a better place.

‘We need young people who are educated and who have the necessary skills and expertise to make a meaningful contribution to our economy. The Western Cape is the fastest growing economy in the country and it is clear that there will always be jobs for those who have the necessary skills, especially in the fields of mathematics and science, as well as in the areas of building and construction.

‘The provincial government is keen for learners to realize that there can be no future without education and so we call on all young people to stay away from drugs such as tik, abstain from sex to avoid teenage pregnancies and to steer clear of gangs which inevitably participate in crimes which lead straight to a jail cell.

‘We want our youth to complete school with good results so that they can participate in our economy in a meaningful way. They have an important role to play in realizing our vision of ‘A Home for All’ and can help to create the better life which our government has promised for all our people.

Whilst the Western Cape has in the last few years achieved phenomenal academic success, we no now need to make the shift from quantity to quality. This is going to be crucial in the years ahead, starting with 2007."

Education MEC Cameron Dugmore said he was pleased with an even better start to the new school year. "It is clear that our early enrolment campaigns in recent years have helped to ensure that parents enrol their children for school well before the start of the school year.

"I am also pleased that in areas where learners have always arrived late, they have joined school from the first day. It is clear parents must and are starting to take greater responsibility for their children to achieve success."

Officials of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) have monitored the opening of schools closely in all districts and have acted swiftly to resolve issues where they have presented themselves.

The WCED anticipated increased pressure in accommodation in parts of Philippi, Paarl and Stellenbosch. Officials of the department will continue to deal with the increased demands in the days ahead.

For example, the department expects numbers in Philippi to grow based on experience in previous years. The Metropole South district office of the department has established a registration centre to manage the increase in demand.

Our Education Management and Development Centres (EMDCs) have worked closely with schools to ensure matching and placing of learners in schools where necessary.

The 15 schools completed by the province in 2006 have helped to meet demand for accommodation. The WCED will open a further 14 schools during the course of 2007/08.

The WCED has received no reports of outstanding learning and teaching materials. Suppliers delivered most materials before the end of the 2006 school year, and delivered outstanding materials during the first few days of this week.

A major concern at this point is vandalism of schools during the December holidays. The WCED’s Safe Schools Division is monitoring incidents. The department’s Physical Resources Planning Directorate is working with schools to ensure essential repairs, focusing mainly on toilet facilities.

Schools and WCED officials reported the following incidents during the morning of Wednesday, 17 January:

Bus transport

Parents of 38 learners living in Elim in the Southern Cape refused to allow their children to travel on a bus to Albert Myburgh High School in Bredasdorp because they believed the bus was unsafe. WCED officials have traveled to Bredasdorp to resolve the issue with the bus contractor as a matter of urgency.

Hostel accommodation

A farmer in the Tanqua area close to the Northern Cape border has refused to accommodate 20 learners in a hostel on her farm because she is unhappy with the rent being paid for the accommodation.

The learners and their parents spent the morning waiting outside the hostel while officials tried to make contact with the farmer who was travelling to a funeral.

Meanwhile, the WCED has sent two officials from department’s Physical Resource Planning Directorate to the farm to resolve the issue. They will organise alternative accommodation if necessary while they seek to resolve the issue.

Staff establishments

Officials of the WCED’s Metropole South EMDC will meet the management teams of Fairmount and Wittebome high schools this afternoon to discuss their staff establishments.

Both schools lost posts this year because of declines in their enrolments for 2007. The number of learners at Fairmount dropped from 1,234 to 998, while those at Wittebome dropped from 919 to 902.

Topics for discussion will include the establishments they need to teach the subjects offered to date by the schools.


The WCED’s Physical Resource Planning Directorate has thus far received 31 reports of vandalism that took place at schools during the December holidays. Damage for these incidents has been estimated at almost R1-million. Officials expect the final estimate to be even more.

The most severe cases reported so far have been at Greenlands Primary School in Bishop Lavis and Uitsig Primary School in Uitsig. Vandals at Greenlands broke windows and damaged ceilings, causing damage worth about R145,000.00. Vandals at Uitsig damaged ceiling, electrical connections and plumbing at a cost of about R75,000.00.

The WCED is prioritising repairs to toilets and electrical systems to ensure that the schools affected are at least functional and safe, before working with schools on the remaining repairs.

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za

The Western Cape - A Home for All
INtshona Koloni - iKhaya loMntu wonke
Die Wes-Kaap - 'n Tuiste vir Almal

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