Statement by Minister Donald Grant on the Preparations for 2010 Academic Year
In order to improve education outcomes in the province, as made clear in our strategic plan, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has prepared a package of documents designed to prepare teachers, principals and parents well in advance about education activities planned for 2010.
We are very proud to be the first province in the country to have completed our planning for next year and to have communicated this to teachers, principals and parents. It is also noteworthy that this level of pro-active planning is a first for the WCED.
The documents include the 10-point strategic plan for 2010 to 2019, a planning calendar for schools for 2010, and letters to principals, teachers and parents. The WCED has distributed these documents by email and has placed them on the WCED website.
An index page for parents has also been set up on the WCED website, which includes tips for parents such as what they can do at home to build the reading, writing and calculating abilities of their children.
The WCED sent the balance of these documents to schools on 2 December 2009. Those educators or parents that have not yet received the documents can contact their district office for a copy.
This province has recently revealed its strategic plan for 2010 -2019. Parents, teachers and principals obviously play an integral part in this plan. Therefore, it is important that they are prepared and motivated for next year so that we can start the year on the right foot to ensure that we meet learner academic targets in 2010.
This administration has undertaken to reduce teacher's work load, to free more time for teaching, and to provide targeted, relevant support. Teachers and principals have been provided with a planning calendar that will assist schools with forward planning.
This includes schedules for training programmes, meetings, tests and examinations, and any other important administrative deadlines. We want to maximise time teaching in the classroom and minimise disruptions.
In terms of curriculum, the WCED will be holding a number of district workshops and meetings on relevant topics. Notice of these will be provided well in advance. The workshops will primarily be on content knowledge and on topics teachers find difficult to teach.
In order to ensure that learners are receiving the quality of education they deserve, by qualified teachers in the relevant spheres, the department will be increasing the advertising and appointment of posts from twice a year to five times a year.
We are aiming to achieve a four month turn around time for the advertising, short-listing, interviews and appointments.
Four new schools will open in January 2010. These include Avian Park Primary School (Overberg District); Gansbaai Secondary (Cape Winelands), Witteklip Primary School (West Coast District), and Bardale Secondary (North District).
The department has placed orders for learning and teaching materials for the new schools. Suppliers have confirmed that they will deliver these materials during the holidays, before schools open in 2010.
As for school readiness for 2010, the WCED has developed a comprehensive checklist for auditing school readiness and to determine if we are on track for the 2010 school year.
According to the audit, about 96% of schools have completed all the tasks need for the start of the year.District officials are working with schools to cover the remaining issues, which include completing timetables, progression and promotion schedules, class lists and cleaning of schools.
The checklist includes infrastructure, safety and security, learning and teaching materials, curriculum and assessment, learner admissions, personnel management and timetabling, among others. The WCED manages procurement of textbooks and other teaching and learning materials for non-Section 21 schools.
The WCED has supplied all public schools with five textbooks for each Grade 11 learner for use in 2010. Suppliers have delivered 99% of the textbooks to schools to date.
Meanwhile, the WCED has worked closely with schools to ensure that all learners have a place in schools in 2010. The department conducted a major early enrolment campaign in the second and third terms of 2009.
We expect some migration in the beginning of 2010 and will move quickly to accommodate any remaining learners, as required.We appeal to parents of learners who go on holiday to ensure that they are in school on 13 January and to make allowances to make this possible.
We would also like to remind parents to prepare for their child's return to school. Many parents do not make provision in their budgets for the new school year, and should set aside some money to pay for the relevant stationary and uniforms.
Finally, on behalf of the WCED, I would like to thank all teachers, principals and administration staff for the work they have done during the past year. We expect that our new strategic plan will contribute to improved teacher performance in the classroom in 2010 and, in turn, help improve learner outcomes. We would also like to wish all our educators a safe and happy holiday.
We hope that they all return on the 11th of January rejuvenated and intellectually stimulated to start the year running.