Ikaneng Primary pupils start lessons on first day

Johannesburg- Except for a number of late applications, the first day of school at Ikaneng Primary School in Diepkloof, Soweto, also marked the first hour of teaching.

Principal Thulani Ngcobo was quick to point out that when the school opened its doors on Wednesday, it was for teaching and learning.

“Learning material was distributed to learners on Tuesday and orientation was conducted for parents on the school’s code of conduct. Today, it is the first day and first hour of teaching,” he said.

Ngcobo, who was spotting grey pants, a grey shirt, a tie, and a pair of trendy black sneakers, was a bundle of energy as he walked around the school.

He said Ikaneng primary was a set of two schools divided into two campuses for grades R to 4, and grades 5 to 7. Campus A, which houses grades R to 4, also includes the administrative building.

He said Covid-19 had introduced a new set of challenges for the school that had to divide its single budget and resources between two schools in order to serve the community of Diepkloof.

“As a school, we would like to have all learners in school but it is not possible with social distancing and the number of learners we have,” he said, adding that the school, which has an average size of 40 pupils a class, was doing its best to accommodate pupils on a rotational
basis.

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to allow 100% capacity unless the social distancing requirements are relaxed.”

Ngcobo said except for some late registrations, teaching and learning had started. The school has 98 grade R pupils and 122 in grade 1. However, Ngcobo said the numbers might change and go up to 160 for grade 1 after the first 10 days of school.

“We will be able to accommodate all grade 1 learners that come to our school,  irrespective of whether they applied, they will be assisted,” said the principal about the no-fee paying school.

“We are using the first three days of schools for baseline assessment to see the learning gaps,” he said.

The two schools, which make up Ikaneng primary, are situated less than 150m from each other, with the school motto “anything worth doing, is worth doing well” greeting you at the school gate.

About 7km from Ikaneng is another primary school, Meredale Primary School, in Meredale, southern Joburg.

The former model C school is also on a rotational timetable with pupils divided into two groups that alternate to attend class.  The classes, which comprise an average of 40 pupils, have been divided into two groups of 20 a class to allow for social distancing.

In addition to not being able to accommodate all pupils in class every day of school, principal Michael MacFarlane lamented how Covid-19 was eroding the values of ubuntu that are a key aspect of education, especially in the foundation phases.

“With Covid, we teach children that they cannot share their things with others. We teach them social distancing. It is robbing us of ubuntu,” he said.

“School is about interaction, sharing, and laying a good foundation that instills values of ubuntu.

Even at home, parents have to emphasize that ‘do not share’ to keep children safe,” he said.

“It will be a long and difficult process to inculcate these values.

“It makes me sad,” he said.

The Department of Education this week gave primary schools, which are able to accommodate all pupils at full capacity without compromising on Covid-19 regulations, the green light to bring all pupils back to school.

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