Media Release
Minister of Education Donald Grant
Western Cape

8 March, 2011

Minister Grant appeals to learners to arrive at school on time

Statement by Minister Donald Grant, Minister of Education, Western Cape

This morning, Western Cape Education Minister Donald Grant visited Maitland train station to monitor learners arriving late for school after hearing reports of latecoming in the area.

The objective of the visit was to monitor the extent of latecoming and the behaviour of learners as they arrived off the train.

“This year we are determined to protect teaching and learning time in this province, therefore we have to ensure “time on task” in order to improve our education outcomes,” says Grant.

“This means that learners should be in school on time, every school day.”

Grant said that although the Department’s campaign (which began in 2009) to curb latecoming was showing some positive outcomes, there were weak points in the system.

“One such school is Maitland High School. Last year I visited the school on this issue, in support of the principal’s measures to curb latecoming. The situation did improve last year, but with the start of the new school year, learners are slipping back into old habits.”

Minister Grant observed learners as they exited the train station this morning, commenting to many of them that they were late for school.

“By the time I left the station, over 60 learners had arrived late for school from Maitland High School alone,” he said.

“It was also interesting to note the attitudes of the various learners. Some, you could see, were determined to try and make it in time and rushed past me, while others took their time and were not in any rush at all,” said Minister Donald Grant.

Grant approached one learner that was already 15 minutes late for school who was waltzing along, chatting to a friend on her cellphone.

“She wasn’t aware of who I was when I told her she was late for school. So I decided to then visit the school a while later to address both her and the learners that had seen me at the exit of the station to explain who I was and why I had been telling them that they were late for school,” said Grant.

“Once I arrived at the school, the late learners were standing at the school gate, which had been locked by the principal. The principal has adopted a method whereby discipline is upheld by recording in a register the late learners at the school gate. The learners then miss the first period of lessons so not to disrupt other learners that had made it to school on time. The learners are also then required to stay after school for detention.”

The late learners were all escorted to the school hall where Minister Grant made an appeal to them to take “time on task” seriously.

He said that every minute of learning was essential.

“Last year 792 candidates missed passing by only 1% in the 2010 NSC exams. This is how close they came to passing Grade 12. This shows you just how important it is that you are in school on time. Your future depends on it. You must be responsible for getting to school on time,” he said.

Grant asked learners why they were late for school. Some cited the weather; others blamed it on train delays.

“Today they had no excuse. The trains were all on time. However, I do sympathise with learners when their trains are late or cancelled. However, they need to make provision for this, and simply wake up earlier. If their trains are consistently late, then they need to catch an earlier train.”

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