The Gauteng Department of Education is making good on its commitment to boost education initiatives, with 36 brand new schools opening in addition to 500 extra teachers reporting for work in the first semester of 2012.
A further 300 pre-fabricated classrooms will be placed in active schools where overcrowding is an issue.
Thirteen of the schools will be in a position to accept pupils the moment inland provinces commence their 2012 academic year, at the same time a further five will open later in the month.
The remaining schools are going to be opened throughout the remaining portion of the first term.
Even though the the vast majority of the new school buildings are pre-fabricated buildings, five of the new schools happen to be solid brick and mortar buildings.
This brings the total number of primary and secondary schools within the province to 2 595 – which includes independent, non-subsidised schools – along with approximately 72 000 teachers.
The buildup to the new school year commences six to eight months before, with teachers expected to place requests for their support materials in May and actual physical pupil admissions occurring from August to October the previous year.
“It’s all systems go for the beginning of the new academic year,” education MEC Barbara Creecy verified at a recent press briefing, adding the fact that the new facilities should go some way when it comes to reducing pressure in a number of overcrowded schools.
Need for additional learning space
From the nine provinces, Gauteng has observed the most significant increase in pupil figures in recent times.
As reported by Creecy, student volumes continues to be rising an average of 2% during the last five years, consequently the province needs to make space for approximately 36 000 additional children each and every year.
The province has over 2-million pupils, at the same time in excess of 14-million children go to school across the country.
“There is no other province that has experienced this degree of demand for learning space,” said Creecy in her mid-term budget speech the previous year.
In regions which include informal settlements, where it’s not necessarily feasible to construct new schools, the education department has enhanced its scholar transport scheme to cater for these already disadvantaged children.
On top of that a budget of R100-million (US$12.5-million) also has been assigned for pre-fabricated classrooms in schools where right now there is overcrowding.
“We will provide 300 pre-fabricated classrooms and 100 pre-fabricated ablution blocks within the financial year,” said Creecy.
Repairs and maintenance work at established schools is in addition ongoing, with work in progress at 42 sites.
Schools at the coast opened one week before, with the Western Cape Education Department welcoming pupils at 11 new schools in 2012. In 2011 the Gauteng education department established six new schools.
Achieving UN millennium goals
South Africa strives to eradicate all mud schools within the next three years as well as make improvements to basic safety and functionality of approximately 3 600 schools by 2014 as part of its side of the bargain to the UN Millennium Development Goals, said President Jabob Zuma during a Parliamentarian session following his State of the Nation address in 2011.
The Millennium Development Goal for education is to make certain that, by 2015, the vast majority of children throughout the world have the ability to gain access to and complete a full course of primary schooling. The government at the same time intends to boost enrolment rates in secondary schools to 95% by 2014.
As outlined by basic education minister Angie Motshekga, concerted campaigns on the government’s part has brought about increases in gross enrolment rates by 20% in primary education and approximately 15% in secondary education.
“In fact, South Africa has virtually attained universal access in primary education,” said Motshekga at a December 2011 meeting on building public-private partnerships in education.
Statistics South Africa’s 2010 general household survey determined that nationally, 72,8% of persons aged 7 to 24 were enrolled in educational institutions.
Steady advances have been made since 2002, however the volume of young people not studying continues to be unacceptable – most respondents pointed out that the reason for this was due to financial factors, a predicament that the government is dealing with. The legal right to basic education is entrenched in South Africa’s Constitution.
Assisting children to learn
In Gauteng alone, approximately 900 000 learners are enrolled in the 1 237 no-fee schools, said Creecy. Of these children, over 800 000 at the same time gain benefit from the government’s nutritional programme.
Country wide, Statistics South Africa recorded the fact that the percentage of pupils countrywide who paid no tuition fees increased from 0.7% in 2002 to 54.6% in 2010.
To stay abreast of growing demands, the Gauteng education department’s budget has risen by more than 13% from 2010/11 to 2011/12, with R25.9-billion ($3.2-billion) allocated for the current financial year.
“Almost 74% of this budget is going to be allocated to salaries for teachers, school administrative staff and office based personnel,” said Creecy.