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MEC Kwazi Mshengu, deputy minister of basic education Reginah Mhaule and Georgetown school principal Simon Mahlaba during a visit on Wednesday, as KwaZulu-Natal schools reopened. Picture: MFUNDO MKHIZE
MEC Kwazi Mshengu, deputy minister of basic education Reginah Mhaule and Georgetown school principal Simon Mahlaba during a visit on Wednesday, as KwaZulu-Natal schools reopened. Picture: MFUNDO MKHIZE

The recent storms that affected at least 190 KwaZulu-Natal schools pose a threat to teaching and learning, says basic education deputy minister Reginah Mhaule.

Mhaule, who was accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, began her oversight and monitoring visit at Izwilesizwe Primary before visiting Georgetown High in Pietermaritzburg.

Schools in KwaZulu-Natal opened for the new academic year on Wednesday.

“In uMgungundlovu district there are at least 41 schools affected. This does not mean that the children did not go to school. The head of department has promised that the department will dispatch mobile classrooms this week that will ensure teaching and learning continue,” she said.

Apart from school infrastructure the storms and rain also damaged bridges and roads leading to the schools.

“There are 11 of those schools and we made an instruction for the schools not to open until the water subsides,” said Mhaule.

The minister’s visit comes as schools in uMkhambathini were forced to close due to a legal dispute involving the traditional authority.

“We are going to allow the law to take its course. We are engaging the security cluster with the co-operative governance department to try to resolve the issue. This cannot be resolved by education,” said Mhaule.

She is encouraged by the number of pupils making their way to school. “When we got to Imbali, teachers were all ready to teach and this means that a trend has been set for the whole year,” she said.

Mshengu weighed in on the issue of placements. At Georgetown’s entrance many anxious parents had camped out in a bid to get their children enrolled.

Fewer than 600 pupils were yet to be placed on Tuesday, while some parents have not yet applied or in some cases applied to one school only, said Mshengu.

He said some parents would demand a place for their children at a certain school, even after being told the school was full. 

“It happens every year. We have plans to deal with it. We have set up district committees that handle such a scenario,” said Mshengu.

Georgetown principal Simon Mahlaba said despite challenges brought by Covid-19 he is expecting a high matric pass rate.

“Covid-19 or no Covid-19, we are not going to dip below 98%. We worked really hard,” he said.

In 2020 the school recorded a 100% pass. He said among a cohort of 108 successful matriculants, 78 bagged bachelor passes, 28 diplomas and two certificate passes.

The school lists higher education minister Blade Nzimande and former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene among its alumni.

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