The Director-General of the Department of Basic Education, Mathanzima Mweli, led a team of senior officials to brief the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education regarding the state of readiness for 2020 school year.
He told the Portfolio Committee today that the department and provinces had made significant strides in preparing schools for the next year.
Learner admissions continue to be one of the biggest tests for the readiness of the schooling system. Adequate and timeous placement of learners allows for learning and teaching to take place from day one.
The 2020 admission preparations in all provinces have shown positive improvement with all provinces having learner admission regulations in place by May 2019. This has served to improve Admission processes which continue to be in line with both the HEDCOM and CEM approved Business Process for Learner Admissions.
The final placement lists should be finalised by the end of November in terms of the Business Process. The Northern Cape has introduced some elements of an electronic system to manage placement of learners in schools.
‘’The Department has faced challenges that have affected the finalisation of the placement of learners, in addition to some schools attracting more applications than others include: Parents not responding on time when requested to accept placement, duplications caused by parents applying to more than one school and not cancelling applications after learners have been placed in a school as well as parents refusing to accept second choices when preferred schools are declared full’’ Mweli said
The uniform timelines for admissions are captured as follows:
•Advocacy for the admissions of learners should commence during the first term (February to March) of the school calendar;
•Admission should commence on the first day of the second term (April) of the school calendar;
•Admission should close at the end of August;
•Placement of learners should be completed by the end of September; and
•The placement of unplaced learners should be finalised between October and November of each year
Textbooks, works books and stationery
The packaging process of stationery and textbooks is well underway with delivery to schools above 95% across all schools.
The Department has also received approval from National Treasury to procure Braille Material for learners with special education needs.
The committee heard that in preparation for the reopening of schools in 2020 and to ensure that schools are ready for teaching and learning, the Department identifies risk areas for which provinces are requested to provide remedial action which ensure teaching and learning can commence on the reopening of schools;
‘’The Department has conducted country wide monitoring relating to infrastructure in particular with regard to progress being made in the construction of new schools being built across provinces while, also ensuring that contingency plans such as mobile classrooms are in place to address infrastructure challenges around provinces and schools that experience an influx of learners’’, added Mr Mweli.
In addition the Department, through provinces, has made plans for renovations and repairs to ailing school infrastructure. The Department would continue to strengthen campaigns on cleaning of schools to ensure infrastructure is adequately prepared prior to reopening of schools.
Supporting the Director-General was the director for School Infrastructure Ramasedi Mafoko who told the committee that burglaries during school holidays were a matter that needed urgent attention. “It is a matter of serious concern that learners continue to be exposed to security challenges as a result of vandalism over school holidays, speaking to the members,” said Mr Mafoko.
He said that it is was important that DBE received the buy-in and support of communities in continuing to ensure safety of learners by protecting the assets of schools.
“It cannot be that schools are within communities but the communities leave the protection of those schools only to the DBE, communities need to ensure the protection of infrastructure and better utilisation of infrastructure budgets,’’ he said.
Some of the additional plans and initiatives include contingency placing for:
- Storm damages: Contingency plans in case of schools damaged by storms during the holiday season to ensure that schooling is not disrupted.
- The Department of Basic Education, National Treasury and the National Disaster Management Centre are collaborating in improving the process flow and turn around period for the rehabilitation of facilities affected by natural disasters;
- Infrastructure Hotspots: Provinces to identify hotspots where there could be an influx of learners and plans to provide temporary accommodation;
- Classroom shortages:
- Identify schools experiencing and likely to experience overcrowding and provide temporary relief;
- Plans to be in place to provide mobile classrooms to respond to demographic shifts and population movements.
Learner Transport and NSNP
The Department has taken pride in ensuring greater access to both Scholar Transport as well as Delivery in the National School Nutrition Program. The Department to date provides scholar transport daily to more than 500 000 learners across the country and an additional 21 307 Learners with Special Needs also receiving transport daily. The NSNP continues to show its significance and contribute to learner attainment with in excess of 9.2 Million learners receiving nutritious meals across schools daily.
Media Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga Departmental Spokesperson– 083 580 8275
Terence Khala – Media Liaison Officer (081 758 1546)
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION