More than 100,000 Grade 1 learners embark on their first day of school

Niël Terblanché

The 2024 school year has begun, and with the Ministry of Basic Education, Arts, and Culture’s guidance, it promises to be a year of transformation and positive development for all involved.

Yesterday marked a monumental day for education as more than 100,000 Grade 1 learners, along with 50,000 preprimary students, excitedly embarked on their first day of school countrywide.

Sanet Steenkamp, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Basic Education, Arts, and Culture, extended a warm welcome to the eager learners and dedicated teachers, urging them to make the initiation of so many young minds into the world of education a memorable and nurturing experience.

With an estimated 150,000 children starting their educational journey, Steenkamp emphasized the importance of creating a supportive and welcoming atmosphere within the school environment.

She called upon teachers to infuse excitement and sensitivity into their interactions with these first-time schoolgoers and encouraged them to instil a strong work ethic from the very beginning.

Steenkamp expressed gratitude to the parents who diligently prepared their children for this momentous occasion, acknowledging the pivotal role parents play in a child’s early education.

Addressing the educators and school leaders, Steenkamp underscored their significance as the first and most influential role models children encounter in their educational journey.

She urged them to assert their authority positively, refraining from any form of abuse or misuse of professional authority.

Instead, Steenkamp encouraged a unifying spirit among educators, promoting acceptance and collaboration towards achieving common goals.

“In every classroom, in every subject, we must ensure that each child acquires the necessary competencies. We must address ill-discipline and bullying, fostering an environment of respect,” stated Steenkamp.

Steenkamp reminded the teachers that they carry the responsibility of shaping the characters of future leaders.

She appealed to educators to approach their role with enthusiasm and sensitivity, especially when welcoming the youngest learners into the educational fold.

Steenkamp encouraged learners to embrace the academic year enthusiastically, emphasizing that each day presents an opportunity for growth.

She urged them to surround themselves with friends and peers who will aid them in mastering subject content, fostering an environment of great expectations and continuous learning throughout the year.

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