Stakeholders will have to work together to ensure success in the education sector this academic year. This is according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga during a visit to Nellmapius Secondary School in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria.

Motshekga was among government officials who visited schools across the country on the first day of the 2021 academic year, to check on the resumption of classes.

Nellmapius Secondary School is a no-fee school. The school has achieved 84%, and 85% matric pass rate in 2018 and 2019 respectively. The school is targeting a 96%  pass rate for the 2020 matrics.

Minister Angie Motshekga visited the school to assess its readiness for the coming academic year. School principal, Joel Dzumba says the school faces many challenges.

“Our problem here is that our school is overpopulated. The capacity of this school is 1 200. At present we are at 1 595. So there is overcrowding in this institution. The number of challenges includes burglary. Every term, every year we experience a burglary. So I understand that this school is situated in an area where 95% of the parents are not employed. So what we have planned with the SGB is that we need to cascade this information that the community should take ownership of the school. Maybe this will help us in this thing of burglary.”

Minister Angie Motshekga briefs the media about plans for 2021 academic year: 

Nellmapius learners say they need support with their academic activities. ” We need emotional support from teachers and a strong support structure from our teachers, the educational system, and everyone at large,” says one of the learners.

COVID-19 pandemic

Meanwhile, Motshekga says there is enough personal protective equipment for teachers and learners.

Stakeholders, including teacher unions, have raised concerns about learners and teachers returning to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Motshekga says it is all systems go. “No. I’ve not seen them this time. I saw in all the schools and even from all the reports, kids have got masks especially those who were with us in school. Most of them you can see they prefer these temporary masks because it is easy to breathe in them but some children as you can see their parents have had their own masks. So I think we are getting used to the masks thing as the community but not even schools have complained about that.”

A call for all stakeholders to work together 

Motshekga says to make a success out of the 2021 academic year all parties must work together. She called on learners, parents, and teachers to ensure that they make it work.

“They must help us to make it work. Conditions are very difficult. We are asking a lot, especially from teachers but just for the sake of our children, we have no other option. It’s just that we have to make it work. We have to work harder which is unfortunate. But even from the school where I come from, teachers are ready to sacrifice their time. They are going to be teaching Saturdays, Sundays just to make up for the lost time. Last year we lost almost 6% of the school year. So, although we went back in July the rotation made us lose more hours. So it’s to say let’s do whatever it takes to make it work.”

The Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, Umalusi has approved the release of the 2020 matric results:

New school in Gauteng 

Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, has pleaded with the Katlehong community in Ekurhuleni to safeguard their new school. The Premier and Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, have opened the new primary school in the area.

Two schools in the township have been torched by the community. They are among the 370 schools in Gauteng that have been vandalised since March last year when lockdown regulations were introduced. Makhura has urged the Katlehong community to ensure the same does not happen to the Abram Hlophe Primary School.

“There’s a school we opened, the three of us, I think three years ago, 2018 I remember. A beautiful school in eKhuruleni in Langaville. We opened in January. I think before March that school was vandalised and the equipment was stolen. This is one of the biggest embarrassment.”