The Western Cape Department of Education says it’s ready for the new school year.  In 2019, over 1 million pupils started and returned to schools in the province and around the same numbers are expected for 2020.

The department says looming budget cuts will put further strain on a system that has to absorb more learners each year.

With only two sleeps left until it’s time for big school for some, or the return to the halls of learning for others, the Education Department in the Western Cape says it’s all systems go.

“We’ve done all our preparations logistically, our stationery has been ordered, textbooks have been ordered and delivered, teacher and staff establishment have been done in good time. There are four more teachers to be appointed, there aren’t enough of them of course because of our budget but we’ve done absolutely everything as the department can do. The placements of learners we’re still busy with,” says Western Cape Minister of Education Debbie Schäfer.

Schäfer says each year around 18 000 new learners flock to Western Cape schools. With major budget cuts on the cards, she says it could affect among others the employment of more teachers and the building of new schools.

The Western Cape Minister of Education says in some instances teachers have to cope with as many as 50 pupils in a classroom.

“In many cases too, some classes are literally wall to wall with desks. Now that’s not safe or healthy for the children either and it’s certainly very stressful for our teachers. So it’s putting a lot of pressure on our teachers and us as a department when we get so many occasions we see state-owned entities that are failing getting bailed out, getting billions and billions of rand because of maladministration and corruption, quite frankly and here we are sitting delivering one of the most important services for our country and we are sitting to having to try and make a plan for our children in overcrowded classrooms all the time,” adds Schäfer.

Schäfer says schools in the province are full but the department will know how many late enrolments and placement shortages there are by next week.

She advises parents to make contact with the relevant district offices in the province for assistance.