One priority of this government is to try and improve the retention rate of our learners. Therefore, we need to address, wherever possible, the problems associated with truancy and absenteeism.
This morning I visited the Delft area to take part in a school counter- truancy operation.
The operation is a collaborative transversal event between the Western Cape Government (The Western Cape Education Department and the Department for Social Development) and SAPS.
The objective of the operation is to address the issue of truancy and absenteeism in the Delft area.
In preparation for the operation, the WCED contacted various schools in the area to obtain a list of names and addresses of learners that are repeatedly truant or absent from school. Using these lists we were then able to target individual learners through a home visit.
This morning, accompanied by SAPS and education officials, I visited four homes and a fifth household- a notorious ‘hang-out’ spot for learners.
I spoke to four learners, one in Grade 6, one in Grade 8 and one in Grade 9. I also met a young boy of the age of 8 that was also not at school.
The learners were then transported to the main ‘hub’ of the operation, which was based at Hindle High School in Delft.
Here, representatives from the WCED and the Department of Social Development were waiting to process and record the names and details of truant learners. Counselors and social workers are stationed at the school hall to assist with learners needing support or counseling.
Each learner’s name, address and school will be captured. The WCED will then conduct follow-ups on each of these learners to monitor their school attendance, as well as inform their parents and ask for their support.
SAPS and education officials are continuing with the operation through the course of the morning. The WCED will also conduct similar operations in other areas where high levels of truancy have been identified.
In many cases, truancy is not just about bunking school.
Many of these learners live and have been brought up in very difficult circumstances and need extra support.
Socio-economic circumstances certainly play a role, as well as gangsterism and drugs. But we too must consider the self-confidence of learners struggling to perform in school, and their battle to keep up with their classmates.
Learners who have not been taught the basics of reading, calculating and writing will certainly find it difficult in the years ahead. That is why the WCED needs to ensure that each young learner has the opportunity to learn those basics and have the skills and self-confidence to move forward in their school career.
We will continue to monitor the learners that we process this morning, giving them the support and encouragement they need to attend school every day.
However, if we want this operation to take effect, we need the support of both the learner and their parents. By working Better Together, we can provide better opportunities for their future.
For the Western Cape Government - every child matters.