I DON’T WANT TO GO: Teacher Nicole Jacobs tries her best to console Wyatt Petersen at De Vrije Zee Primary School

Schools opened for the first term and Wednesday and, as expected, there were tears of joy, tears of misery and tantrums galore as laaities started their first day of “big school”.

Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer, joined by Community Safety MEC Alan Winde, visited a few Cape Town schools to welcome the Class of 2019.

Just over 1.1 million pupils started school in the Western Cape.

Primary schools across the province took on 108 325 Grade 1s and  83 360 Grade 8 learners.

Burkaan van der Merwe wil net huis toe

“I would like to welcome all our new learners and their parents into our Western Cape schools. A special welcome to the learners who have started school for the first time,” said Schäfer. 

To accommodate the growth in numbers, the WCED completed five new schools last year, and another new school will be completed by April. 

Three mobile schools have also been completed, as well as 80 classrooms. 

The Daily Voice visited schools on the Cape Flats to see how the little ones were settling in.

Philip van der Berg, Alexa Blosfeld

At Protea Primary School in Bonteheuwel, the Grade R teacher and three helpers had their hands full with three inconsolable five-year-olds.

The rest of the class of about 30 learners sat quietly watching as the two boys and a girl absolutely refused to be there.

Burkaan van der Merwe clung to his mother, Wesaahl, 40, insisting he wanted to go home. 

Wesaahl said he had been excited about going to school since he had first been with her at a school where she worked with the Grade R class. 

WELCOME: MEC for Education Debbie Schäfer with Connor Florence at Forest Village Leadership Academy

“He came with me almost every day and never wanted to go home. Today he just refuses to stay,”  she said.

Kharleed Matthews, five, rolled on the floor crying, while Taymin Booysen, also five, wailed her heart out. 

Teacher Yazeeda Wyngaard said there are always a few kids with attachment issues.

“The kids may show great excitement one day, but are completely thrown by the enormity of being at the school. Eventually they get excited about it and settle in,” she said.

At Seaview Primary School in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain, a father had to intervene when his wife and daughter would not let each other go.

Faeed Williams, 40, had to peel his sobbing wife, Fatgieya, 32, off Zakeeya, five.

While some were more confident than others, tears, kicks and screams were the order of the day. 

Bahiya Smith accompanied her nephew Wagheed Smith, six, to his first day of Grade 1.

“Wagheed was extremely nervous to be starting school, but once he got to class, all the nerves were gone. It was all smiles thereafter,” says Bahiya.

Grade R teacher, Mrs Du Plessis, says parents make it harder when they stay in class too long. 

“I know parents are equally overwhelmed but the longer they stay in the class, the child becomes more emotional.”

Petunia Primary school in Kraaifontein held an assembly to welcome learners and parents to the school. Principal Faizal Yon said he felt good about 2019. 

Ouma Engela Gordan brought her grandchild, Jessi, five, for her first day. 

“It’s heartbreaking to say goodbye to her now, but in a few years she will be done with school and forever remember that first day,” she said. 

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