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Media Release

16 July, 2007

Schools off to a smooth start after month-long strike

Statement by Cameron Dugmore, MEC for Education in the Western Cape

I am very pleased with reports from the different Education Management and Development Centres (EMDCs) that the third term has started smoothly, with good attendance by teachers and learners.

This is the third and crucial term for our learners. I am confident that our teachers are committed to ensure that our learners get the best support they need as we approach the matric and final year exams.

This morning it was back to normal for all our 960,00 learners in both high and primary schools. Although various schools have been affected differently by the recent public service strike, I am most concerned about matric learners, who have not written exams at all at about 50 high schools.

These schools must start examinations soon, so that it can be completed by the 8th of August 2007. Schools that are writing their own papers must submit comprehensive examination plans and their timetables to the EMDCs by the 20th of July.

The 30 schools that are participating in the common examinations of the Learner Attainment Strategy (namely, those that achieved matric pass rates of less than 60% in 2006) have received new timetables for the Grade 12 examinations.

We have provided full details of our recovery plan to the media, which include the following:

  • Measures to complete mid-year examinations by 8 August 2007
  • Winter schools, spring schools and extra classes
  • Distributing materials and information via electronic and print media
  • Provision of extra learning support materials

I know that many of our learners are learning under the most difficult of circumstances. I therefor want to urge our parents to support them, and give them space and time to concentrate on their studies.

I urge all of the young children to keep their focus. They must use all available time to cover certain subject areas, do revision and read set-works.

I am also convening a meeting with all unions and other education stakeholders in this week, and will establish a Provincial Recovery Team, to strengthen and monitor the implementation of the Recovery Program.

The plan made an excellent start during the July holiday with Winter Schools in six of our seven districts. The seventh district, South Cape/Karoo, plans to hold extra classes on Saturday mornings and during the September holidays.

We are now entering the second phase of the plan, in conjunction with the national Department of Education and teacher unions. These discussions will be finalised this week.

Whilst many schools returned to normal, I am concerned about reports that 17 schools have been affected by vandalism and/or burglary during the holiday, the most serious of which was Groenvlei Secondary School in Lansdowne, which reported three cases of burglary and vandalism.

Apparently, burglars set fire to a prefabricated building at the school, and damaged ceilings, toilets, the alarm system and security gates, among other acts of vandalism. They stole copper pipes, electrical wiring and a gas cylinder. The school reported the incident to the Lansdown police station.

Our officials have visited the school this morning and have arranged emergency security and repairs. I am also happy that the local police forum will arrange for extra patrols.

Every burgled or vandalised school is one too many, and we cannot rest until every school is treated as a sacred place in every community, dedicated to teaching and learning and ensuring a positive future for every child. I therefor appeal to our communities to take ownership of our schools and come forward with any information, which will assist us in preventing further attacks.

Detailed costing of the damages to our various schools is being compiled. The department will initiate a process to repair the affected schools with our Emergency Maintenance budget.

Whilst every school has a safety plan in line with procedure, ongoing incidents of vandalism and theft show that criminals are determined to target our schools. Every year the department spends millions on repairs, which is unacceptable.

I have therefore asked the Head of Department to establish a Task Team between our department and Community Safety to advise on additional measures to secure our schools over weekends and during holidays.

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

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