Today was an exciting day for many children and their parents as more than one million learners in the Western Cape started school, many for the first time.
I would like to welcome all our new learners and their parents or guardians into our Western Cape schools.
This morning I visited Valhalla Primary School in Elsies River and I was very pleased to see how organised the Principal and school management team were.
School Principal, Mr Lochner was at school very early this morning to ensure that the school was ready to receive learners. The school held four orientation sessions for parents and new learners last year, so that they knew what to expect today, and were prepared for teaching and learning to start this morning.
It was heart-warming to see so many parents there to accompany their children to school on their first day. Some Grade R learners (and their parents) shed some tears, while the Grade 1 learners settled down quickly and said quick goodbyes to their parents.
A parent, Carmen Hendricks, said after meeting with the teachers last year and seeing how they interacted with the children, she was confident that her son Gio will enjoy Grade R at the school.
Mr Lochner said he was heartened by the growing support from parents. For the past three years the school offered an 8 week programme on Saturdays for parents of Grade R and Grade 1 learners. Other empowerment programmes include the Wordworks Literacy Programme and Math Moms, a programme making use of stay at home mothers who are trained to assist learners with regards to numeracy.
Mr Lochner said the emphasis was on Grades R to 3 to lay a solid foundation for the rest of the learners’ school career. “Parental involvement is of utmost importance and we are always in pursuit of excellence. I always reiterate to our staff that teaching is a calling and not a job.”
With 197 school days in the 2017 academic year, I am pleased that early indications are that we have had a smooth start to the 2017 school year.
To parents who are having difficulties enrolling their child, or who have failed to enrol their child: I urge you to approach the local district office as soon as possible, for assistance with finding a place at a school.
Each district office has identified officials who will assist parents who struggle to find a place for their children.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) will be on stand-by to provide assistance at schools where there are late registrations and any other last-minute tasks that need to be completed.
I would also like to appeal to parents to take an active part in their child’s education. Children can achieve much more with supportive, interested parents. Without it, their entire futures could be compromised.
Parents can assist their child’s school career by cultivating and encouraging their child’s reading and writing skills, and I urge them to do so.
Finally, I would like to wish all our learners, educators, officials and parents the very best of luck for a productive and successful year ahead.