‘Smooth sailing’ on first school day

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Sannika Futter wishing her daughter, Halley, well on her first day of school. PHOTO: PIERCE VAN HEERDEN

The first day was “smooth sailing” for most schools in the Free State yesterday. This is according to Howard Ndaba, spokesperson of the Free State Department of Education.
“MECs, HODs, mayors and the premier of the province visited schools across the Free State and they were happy to report that the first day of school was a resounding success. No incidents have been reported,” Ndaba told Bloemfontein Courant yesterday.
Meanwhile on school grounds across the province the new school year for 2018 started on an exciting note for thousands of learners when schools reopened yesterday.
Some learners progressed to a next grade, others started school for the first time, and for some this is their final year. Grade 1s across Bloemfontein experienced mixed emotions. Most of them were quite excited about school and were very eager to get away from their parents, looking forward to making new friends, while others wouldn’t let go of their parents, resulting in waterworks everywhere.
Although Grade 1 is the first step of a learner’s school journey, moving onto Grade 8 is just as frightening. Some learners are entering a high school with 800 learners while only being used to 50 learners in the whole school. Some have to face a hostel as a ‘new home’. The matric class of 2018 on the other hand, might just be excited because it is their final school year which they can’t wait to complete.
For others, however, the day was not as exciting as for most, as they have not yet been enrolled in a school. The Free State Department of Education revealed earlier in the week that a total number of 1188 learners in the province are still looking for schools. “We are working with the districts to ensure that these learners find places in schools nearest to them and we are confident that they will indeed be able to be placed in schools around the province,” Ndaba, told Pulane Choane on Tuesday.
Several schools in Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu also faced a serious water crisis after the Mangaung Municipality allegedly cut their water supply. Spokesperson for Free State Premier Ace Magashule, Tiisetso Makhele, confirmed to OFM that the provincial government is in talks with the Mangaung Metro Municipality regarding the matter.
Serious dangers could be faced due to the water crises, including health hazards and children being severly affected by the current heat wave experienced in the Free State.
Despite these challenges, Ndaba said the department is looking forward to the 2018 school year and will assign several of its leaders and managers to different schools in the province to assess the state of readiness at these respective schools.
Read more on page 3 and 7.

JERETHA OOSTHUIZEN 
jeretha@mahareng.co.za