News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Tuesday October 17th 2017

Late returning learners face being de-registered

Sandiso Phaliso

Learners who have not reported to their school to begin this year’s lessons will be written off the register if they do not arrive today, say a number of Cape Town school principals.

Some principals said up to a quarter of their learners expected back to begin their next grade have still not arrived for class because parents were waiting for their January paycheque in order to pay for transport for their child to return from the Eastern Cape where they had been visiting family.Some school-going children were also being held in custody by the police for crimes committed during the vacation.

Although a number of principals said the parents of absentee learners had provided letters to the school explaining their child’s absence, they had not heard a word from others.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said learners not returning from the Eastern Cape in time for the school year has been an annual headache and stands behind principals who decide to de-register them.
WCED spokesperson Paddy Attwell said learners returning to school a week after schools open affected teaching, learning and logistics.
Atwell said there was no guarantee absentee learners would be returning and schools needed to get on with registering learners on the waiting list.
However, he said should learners return to find no space for them at the school, “the schools will have to find alternative accommodation for the learners to continue with their studies”.

Nyanga’s Mandela High school deputy principal Alleta Pretorious yesterday (subs: Tuesday) said although she did not have figures to hand, “a lot of them (learners)” had not returned to school.
“The huge number of absenteeism affects teaching and learning at the school. If they don’t come to school by this Friday, we will be forced to write them off the system.
“Parents have not come and explained to the school their children’s whereabouts, leaving us with no choice but to scrap them (de-register them) and take learners who are willing to learn,” she said.

Philippi’s Intsebenziswano Senior Secondary school principal Mxolisi Dotwana said there were 95 learners who had not yet reported to school, 27 of them who were starting grade 12.
Dotwana said only ten parents had come to see him or phoned saying their children were stuck in the Eastern Cape or were in police custody.
He said they had until the end of this week to report for class.

Meanwhile, a visit to Khayelitsha’s juvenile’s court on Monday showed 52 accused between the ages of 15 and 20 on the court roll. Given their ages, presumably many of them should be at school.

Their crimes ranged from assault with intent to do grievously body harm; housebreaking; attempted murder; possession of an unlicensed firearm and/or ammunition; and armed robbery.

Juvenile court prosecutor Ntsikelelo Peters said the appearance seems to be more cases involving juveniles this year than in January 2009.
Peters said in 2009 he was prosecuting about 10 cases per day whereas this month he had to deal with about 20 per day.
He said some cases involving juveniles, although many parents asked for their children to be released from custody, were being postponed until early February for bail applications or further consultations.
He said parents who had a school-going child sitting in police custody, should get a letter from the court for the school.

Parent Nokwazi Fosi (43) said her boy has been in custody since December 30 on charges of in possessing an unlicensed firearm, and has not been granted bail yet.
“I want the court to release him so he can go back to school. He misses a lot while he sits in jail,” said Fosi.
She said she had not told his school because it was embarrassing for her to explain to the principal that her son was facing criminal charges.

Tags: juvenile crime; INtsebenziswano Senior Secondary, Mandela High School, Paddy Attwell, wced

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