With 36 new schools opening in Gautengprovince alone in early 2012, morechildren will be able to receive a soundbasic education. (Image: Shamin Chibba)MEDIA CONTACTS • Charles Phahlane Communications head, Gauteng education dept +27 11 355 1530 or +27 71 860 4496. RELATED ARTICLES • SA businesses urged to adopt schools • SA prioritises quality education • Zuma: SA to meet 2015 education goal • Tackling SA’s education challenges • Can drive raises R8.5m for educationEmily van RijswijckThe Gauteng Department of Education is making good on its promise to step up education efforts, with 36 new schools opening and 500 additional teachers reporting for duty in the first term of 2012.Another 300 pre-fabricated classrooms will also be added to existing schools where overcrowding is a problem.Thirteen of the schools will be ready to accept pupils when inland provinces start their 2012 academic year on 18 January, while another five will open later in the month.The remainder of the schools will be opened during the rest of the first term.While the majority of the new school buildings are pre-fabricated buildings, five of the new schools are solid brick and mortar structures.This brings the number of primary and secondary schools in the province to 2 595 – including independent, non-subsidised schools – with almost 72 000 teachers.The buildup to the new school year already starts six to eight months before, with teachers required to place orders for their support materials in May and actual pupil admissions taking place from August to October the year before.“It’s all systems go for the start of the new academic year,” education MEC Barbara Creecy confirmed at a recent press briefing, adding that the new facilities will go some way towards alleviating pressure in some of the overcrowded schools.Demand for learning space Of the nine provinces, Gauteng has seen the biggest rise in pupil numbers in recent years.According to Creecy, pupil numbers has been growing on average by 2% over the last five years, which means the province has to make space for about 36 000 additional children each year.The province has over 2-million pupils, while more than 14-million children attend school countrywide.“There is no other province that has experienced this level of demand for learning space,” said Creecy in her mid-term budget speech last year.In areas such as informal settlements, where it’s not always possible to build new schools, the education department has expanded its scholar transport scheme to accommodate these already disadvantaged children.In addition a budget of R100-million (US$12.5-million) has been allocated for pre-fabricated classrooms in schools where there is overcrowding.“We will provide 300 pre-fabricated classrooms and 100 pre-fabricated ablution blocks within the financial year,” said Creecy.Maintenance work at existing schools is also 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 opened six new schools.Aiming for millennium goals South Africa aims to eliminate all mud schools over the next three years and to improve basic safety and functionality of about 3 600 schools by 2014 as part of its contribution to the UN Millennium Development Goals, said President Jabob Zuma during a Parliamentarian session after his State of the Nation address in 2011.The Millennium Development Goal for education is to ensure that, by 2015, the majority of children all over the world are able to access and complete a full course of primary schooling. The government also hopes to increase enrolment rates in secondary schools to 95% by 2014.According to basic education minister Angie Motshekga, concerted efforts on the government’s part has resulted in rises in gross enrolment rates by 20% in primary education and about 15% in secondary education.“In fact, South Africa has almost achieved 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 found that nationally, 72,8% of persons aged 7 to 24 were attending educational institutions.Steady gains have been made since 2002, yet the number of young people not studying remains unacceptable – most respondents indicated that this was for financial reasons, a situation that the government is addressing. The right to basic education is entrenched in South Africa’s Constitution.Helping children to learnJust in Gauteng alone, almost 900 000 learners are attending the 1 237 no-fee schools, said Creecy. Of these children, over 800 000 also benefit from the government’s nutritional programme.Nationally, Statistics South Africa recorded that the percentage of pupils countrywide who paid no tuition fees increased from 0.7% in 2002 to 54.6% in 2010.To keep up with rising demands, the Gauteng education department’s budget has increased by over 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 will be spent on salaries for teachers, school administrative staff and office based personnel,” said Creecy.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday visited the Jawaharlal Nehru sports complex here and asked authorities to “redouble their efforts” to quickly complete remaining works as people were expecting a “flawless” opening to the Commonwealth Games.The venues for the Commonwealth Games are yet to be completedTerming the sports complex as “beautiful”, Singh urged the authorities “to redouble their efforts to quickly complete whatever works remained as people were expecting a spectacular and flawless opening to the CWG.”The Prime Minister visited the stadium, the venue of the opening and closing ceremonies of the October games, on Sunday morning.He was shown various facilities there including the playing fields, royal box, stands for spectators, security and other arrangements, PMO officials said.Singh’s visit comes as part of the series of steps he has taken to streamline and expedite the preparations for the October 3-14 mega event which have been rocked by a spate of corruption allegations.The Prime Minister, accompanied by Sports Minister M S Gill and Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi, went around the stadium and saw for himself the facilities and the work being done.Singh was there at the sports complex for over 20 minutes. Reporters were not allowed inside the venue during the Prime Minister’s visit.Concerned by the delays and the corruption charges, Singh had convened a high-level meeting on August 14 to review the preparations for the Games.A committee of bureaucrats headed by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar was formed and given overriding powers by bringing into its ambit the Games Organising Committee that has been tainted following corruption allegations.advertisementObserving that there have been “slippages” in time schedules and deficiencies noticed, Singh had directed that a thorough probe should be held by the ministries concerned into complaints of “procedural and other irregularities” and “those found guilty should face severe and exemplary punishment”.He had instructed that all pending works should be completed in a time-bound manner and decided to visit select venues of the Games in the last week of this month.
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