root - January 16, 2024

Primary schools prepare for late enrolments, with parents encouraged to finalise any late applications immediately

Peter Luhanga  

Primary schools in Dunoon are fully enrolled across all grades except grades R and 1 ahead of the start of the school year in the Western Cape on Wednesday 17 January. 

Despite the lingering holiday atmosphere, school principals from Sophakama, Dunoon, and Silver Leaf primary schools said they are enthusiastic and ready to start the academic year on a positive note.

Notably, these schools enjoyed a peaceful festive season, with all principals confirming there were no burglaries or incidents of vandalism at the schools over the holiday, thanks to 24-hour security measures and surveillance cameras.

Sophakama Primary School principal Amos Siwayi says his school is at full capacity for grades 3 to 7, with limited space available in grades 1 and 2. 

Siwayi says parents whose applications for their children are late must contact the education district immediately to seek enrolment. Siwayi said the district authorities will make an assessment and identify schools in the area that can still accommodate late applicants.

He says the influx of late applicants from the Eastern Cape as a significant challenge.

He said his school is prepared to welcome pupils for the new academic year, with teachers commencing their duties on Monday 15 January. Pupils received their school reports last year, instructing them to report to school on Tuesday January 16 to collect textbooks and stationery and familiarise themselves with their assigned classes.

“On Wednesday, the first official day of school, teaching begins, and there are no concerns regarding the availability of textbooks. The school’s caretaker and cleaners  undertook the task of cleaning the school premises during the second week of January,” said Siwayi.

While there were no break-ins or incidents of vandalism at the Dunoon primary schools during the holiday season, there were multiple shack fires in Dunoon’s informal settlement, resulting in significant losses for the affected residents. Siwayi said considering this unfortunate situation, parents whose children lost their school uniforms in these shack fires should still send their children to school.

“We’ve got a clothing bank. We collect clothes and uniforms from our learners who leave our school the previous year and we give those clothes and uniforms to disadvantaged learners and those whose parents were victims of shack fires.” He said learners who arrived without a school uniform would not be turned away. 

“We also have teachers who take their own personal money to buy school uniforms and provide basic needs to vulnerable children,” said Siwayi.

Dunoon Primary School principal Bongani Macikama also said his school is operating at full capacity across all grades, with only 10 spaces available in Grade 1.

Macikama said all other grades, from grade 2 to 7, are full, accommodating 45 learners per class.

Nomathemba Vumazonke, the principal of Silverleaf Primary School, said based on her enrolment register, the school is currently at full capacity, with just a few spaces still open for grades 1 and 2. However, she noted that some parents tend to withdraw their children at the last minute for transfers to other schools, potentially freeing up spaces. 

Vumazonke says parents are encouraged to inquire directly at the school regarding enrolment availability.

In a statement last week Thursday 11 January, the spokesperson for Western Cape Education MEC David Maynier, Kerry Mauchline, said before schools closed on 12 December, the provincial education department announced they had been able to allocate places for 99.43% of the learners for whom applications were received for grades 1 and 8 for the 2024 school year. 

However, Mauchline said during the school holidays they had received new applications for learners whose parents had not previously applied, and anticipate receiving many more in the coming weeks.

“We have already received 609 new, extremely late applications in the first 10 days of January 2024, and placement is currently in progress for 2,636 grade 1 and 8 learners,” stated Mauchline.

“We urge any parent who has not yet applied for the 2024 school year to do so immediately at their education district office.”

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