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The Department of Basic Education (DBE) presented a detailed briefing to the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education in Parliament on the start of the 2018 school year.
The DBE has been closely monitoring the re-opening of schools. Basic Education Deputy Director General for District, Monitoring and Support, Mrs Palesa Tyobeka told the portfolio committee that school readiness in the system over the last five to ten years has improved significantly.
The areas that had improved included learner admissions and registrations ahead of the new year; timeous provision of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) for all learners; and ensuring the availability of teachers for each class and each subject at all levels of the system, as well as school improvement plans.
Onsite DBE monitoring was organised to complement provincial and district monitoring processes to ensure that, collectively, the sector covered as many schools as possible.
On learner admissions most provinces have managed to drastically reduce the number of unadmitted learners. The total number of learners still not admitted to schools across all nine provinces stands at 7 457 with the majority of those being in the Western Cape which still hasn’t placed 4 660 learners. Gauteng must be commended for managing to place thousands of learners, with currently only 499 still needing to be placed. All provinces have given assurances that all learners will be placed by the end of February.
DDG Tyobeka reported that HEDCOM (A meeting of all provincial Heads of Departments) has approved the strategy to address the challenge of learners who apply for admission to schools at the beginning of an academic year which include the following:
- Referring all late admissions to district offices to direct applicants to identified schools that have vacancies by taking consideration of proximity and curriculum offering.
- For Provinces to implement the strategy the following must be in place:
- Districts must establish a late Admission Task Team;
- Districts must establish a suitable venue within the districts to accommodate the number of envisaged applicants;
- Inform schools and communities about the procedure for the registration and the venue where parents can apply.
Regarding LTSM provisioning, which has been a persistent issue for the sector the committee welcomed the report that the majority of schools (i.e. 98%) had received DBE workbooks for all grades. This area has been a beacon of success in the system.
All provinces showed significant improvement in the provisioning of textbooks – compared to previous years. Shortages that were found are mostly at secondary school level, but are being addressed.
With regards to stationery, 91.1% (659 out of 723) of schools had received their orders. In eight of the nine provinces, less than 10% of schools reported challenges with the delivery of stationery. However, in Eastern Cape, 23% (21 out of 89) schools monitored had not received their orders.
EC commenced delivery in November 2017 because of new systems for delivery. Textbooks for all schools were dispatched by 30 January 2018. 100% of schools that ordered centrally had received their stationery orders. The delay is in Section 21 schools that ordered themselves or where parents are required to buy.
Over 83% of the schools monitored had an LTSM inventory and textbook retrieval policy. Already, districts have begun to focus on supporting schools on the effective implementation of the policies to ensure maximum retrieval.
The department will continue to monitor progress in schools around the country to provide support where necessary.
Issued by Department of Basic Education