Johannesburg- The deaths of parents and legal guardians have put the future of scores of pupils in the KwaZulu-Natal education district of uMkhanyakude under jeopardy.
KZN, including the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and the Northern Cape began their 2022 academic calendar this week. But it was not business as usual for some schools in the rural district of uMkhanyakude.
According to parents and teachers in the far north district, who spoke to Sunday World, schools are struggling to meet their enrolment targets. School principals are now appealing to traditional leaders and ward councillors to assist them in getting pupils back to class.
“Rural schools are severely affected by this exodus of learners who are not coming back. In my school, for instance, we admit learners from grades 8 to 12. Out of 868 spaces available, we have only enrolled 438 learners.
We are working jointly with the traditional authority and ward councillors to find out what could be the problem,” said Bongumenzi Sikhakhane, one of the affected school principals. Failure to meet enrolment targets hits KZN schools Principals are asking traditional leaders and councillors for help Another teacher at Nhlanhlayethu Secondary, Comfort Dludla, said the reasons for pupils failing to return to class varied.
“The deaths of parents and legal guardians have left many children to fend for themselves. Learners are choosing between going to school or finding employment to look after their siblings.” Kwazi Mshengu, KZN education MEC, said reasons for the enrolment woes ranged from parents waiting until late to register pupils and some not staying with their children because of work.
“We are confident that before the end of the month, the situation will have improved. We also encourage schools to accept late registrations,” said Mshengu. Dr Imraan Keeka, an MPL and DA member of the education portfolio committee, said about 1 600 pupils in King Cetshwayo and uMkhanyakude had not registered.
“In addition, what is extremely concerning is that there are also schools that are not admitting learners or refusing to give report cards because of unpaid fees. This is atrocious in the extreme and illegal.”