Professionals make a plan
Four of the schools Grocott’s Mail visited on the first day, Wednesday 11 January, are up and running smoothly – despite some significant challenges.
DD Siwisa Primary principal Zolani Gosani said their textbooks needed a top-up.
While Grocott’s Mail was there, support staff Nkosinkulwani Hani and Sivuyile Maqoko were delivering wheelbarrow-loads of workbooks and stationery to classrooms.
The school has 35 more pupils than they are approved for.
“We’re approved for 514 learners,” Gosani said, "and we have 549.
“There have been a few transfers, a few new admis- sions. Our classes this year will be on average 35 or 36."
Gosani was expecting scholar transport to be up and running by yesterday. "It will simply continue with the 2016 approved learners."
The school meal was due to be served in an hour, he said.
DD Siwisa was not negatively affected by post-provisioning in late 2016, he said.
"We have 15 classes and 16 staff members," he said.
Andile Matya and his Grade 7a pupils were rearranging their new classroom. To accommodate bigger numbers, the original classroom was divided in two.
At Archie Mbolekwa Primary, principal Zola Mothlabane wasn't yet able to provide final numbers.
“We’re still putting children into classes,” he said.
However, the school’s strong reputation has put pressure on its class sizes and most have more than 40 children in a class.
“By the look of things, there are quite a few more children,” he said.
“We are covered for stationery and textbooks,” he said, “but we have no workbooks and that’s a real problem for the Foundation Phase, where the syllabus is based on those workbooks.
“However, we were told at a meeting on Monday that they are on their way.”
Archie Mbolekwa had 640 pupils in 2016. They have 17 teachers.
There are plenty of late registrations, and he so far hasn't turned away any pupils.
“We normally don’t. Even if they’re a burden on our systems, we absorb them. We don’t want children on the streets.”
PJ Olivier has 365 pupils, with 11 state-paid teachers and 10 employed by the SGB.
According to principal Joubert Retief, they still have some space for Afrikaansspeaking pupils in grades 4-7.
While the school has enough teachers, there is a huge burden on the parents for paying the SGB staff, Retief said. They have lost one HOD position and one Post Level 1 teacher since 2015 due to departmental rationalisation.
“This means the school is managed by one principal and one HOD. We are a combined school and should ideally have at least three HODs,” Re- tief said. Schools had received updated post-provisioning norms on Tuesday.
“There is a new management plan for the PPN process which should have been finalised by September 2016. We hope to fill a Post Level 1 position as soon as possible,” he said.
However, they were grateful to have received some textbooks on the day the school started for learners. "We still wait for a second delivery so that we will be fully subscribed. Principals heard on Monday that a back order had been placed for stationery and we hope that we will receive it before the end of January."
Oatlands Prep has 345 pupils and 17 teacher, including a music teacher and a computer teacher.
Nine are paid by the Department of Education and eight by the school governing body. Principal Rosaria de la Mare said not enough teachers were paid by the department.
“Incremental Introduction of African Languages teacher have been included in the number of teachers allocated to us, whereas the department previously allocated them as teachers.”
Some of the textbooks required for the year had been provided.
“Where our teachers do not have sufficient textbooks, they have made a plan.”
Oatlands had many late applications.
“We accepted some pupils where spaces were available, but we have a long waiting list,” said De La Mare.
Archie Mbolekwa principal Zola Mothlabane says stationery and textbooks are covered, as far as the school is concerned, but they are still waiting for workbooks.
Nkosinkulwani Hani takes workbooks to a classroom at DD Siwisa Primary.
DD Siwisa Primary principal Zolani Gosani poses for outside his Grade 4 classroom.