The welcome back to school for Westcott Primary School pupils and staff, last Wednesday, was made all the more auspicious by the presence of Premier Alan Winde and Education MEC David Maynier.
More than 500 children started the new school year at the Diep River primary school, including 55 Grade Rs and 74 Grade 1s.
According to Mr Maynier, the Western Cape Education Department had just completed seven new classrooms and two ablution blocks at the school to help meet the demand for placement.
“This exciting project was completed in just four months, which is a fantastic achievement that would not be possible without the hard work of the school staff and governing body, our officials, and our contractors,” he said.
The school’s principal, Amanda Fortuin, wished the pupils well for the year ahead.
“My wish is that every learner at Westcott Primary learns from the best teachers and experiences the very best of what school life has to offer. I want our school to grow, and excel towards a brighter, empowered future for all.”
According to the provincial education department, 1.2 million pupils started the year in the province’s public schools last week, including 93 000 Grade 1s, and 98 000 Grade 8s. A total of 28 600 teachers and 7 300 public service staff members are employed at public schools in the province this year.
“Our officials and schools have been working hard to ensure that we are ready for the new school year by procuring R49 million in textbooks, R24 million in stationery, R17.5 million in furniture and R2 million in equipment, so it is all systems go for the new school year.” Mr Maynier said.
“Despite a massive R716.4 million blow to our budget, we are still building 10 new schools and three replacement schools for new learners joining us this year, including two for learners with special needs.
“We have already placed around 120 000 Grade 1 and 8 learners, and we will continue our efforts to place the remaining learners seeking places at our schools, including the extremely late applicants arriving at our district offices daily. We ask for patience as we reallocated resources to where they are needed, and we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to place learners.”
Mr Winde wished all the province’s pupils, teachers, school support staff, parents, and guardians the best for the new academic year.
“To all our Grade 1s, this is the start of an exciting journey. It is all right to be a little nervous. Take it all in your stride and do your best. To our Grade 12 class of 2024, I urge you all to knuckle down and work as hard as you can. At the same time, take time out to enjoy your last year in school. To all our learners, take pride in your schools, and respect one another and your teachers. They work exceptionally hard to give you quality education to prepare you for your future.”