IN PICTURES | Superheroes, laughs and tears as 2020 school year kicks off
Aside from the unwelcome early morning wake-up and dreaded traffic, the first day of school on Wednesday also brought some happy hellos, hesitant goodbyes, laughter and many tears.
As is customary, it was the little ones attending school for the first time who turned on the waterworks as they bade their parents goodbye at the school gate.
For some schools in the province, it was right down to business as teaching began minutes after the first bell.
Zukisa Sondlo, principal of Edlelweni Primary School in Komani, said school stationery arrived last year.
“We were here since Monday registering learners but there are a few parents who only arrived today to register. We will accommodate all the children and allocate them classes today,” he said.
Another Komani school, Nonesi Primary, also did not have any issues with stationery.
Ulwazi Senior Secondary School in Mdantsane, hailed by Eastern Cape Education MEC Fundile Gade for achieving a 100% matric pass rate for three consecutive years, welcomed Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane to its opening assembly.
Addressing the pupils, Mabuyane said: “This school has been consistent in getting a 100% pass mark. These children are not going to the model C schools to obtain bachelor passes, they do it here in Mdantsane.
"We are not educating you to end up sitting at home, we want you to be the salt of the earth. You must focus on your studies and get your teachers to help you.”
Grade 12 pupil Sinokhanyo Koloti assured Mabuyane that they would continue the 100% trend.
“At the end of the year we will be celebrating another 100%. We are proud of our school and our teachers.
"Sometimes we come to school with issues from home but as soon as we step through the school gates they make us forget about our problems,” Koloti said.
Recognising that first-day jitters can be a problem for younger children, Clarendon Primary in East London pulled out all the stops to put them at ease.
A colourful display of purple balloons, empowering songs and teachers in superhero capes greeted the girls on their arrival at the school.
While saying goodbye can be heartbreaking, some parents and children were more than a little relieved.
After dropping off her daughter, parent Muskan Pathan said: “I'm so happy, I was so ready for a break. The long holidays can be a bit boring for my daughter so thinking up new things to do all the time becomes difficult. She was also really looking forward to going back to school. She was smiling from ear to ear on the way here.”
But a tearful Daggie Abepe said: “It's a bit sad for me. My daughter is in Grade 7 so this is her past year at Clarendon Primary. She's off to big school next year.
At Stirling High School friends were happy to see each other again after their month-long holiday.
“We're not too excited to be back at school, the holidays were great, but it's nice to see everyone again,” said grade 11 pupil, Live Vapi.
Mother-of-two Nolitanto Qhali said her boys were in grade 8 and 11, and there were always a few nerves on the first day of school.
“I'm nervous and so are my sons. High school is hard work, but we have to keep encouraging and supporting our children,” said Qhali.
Beaconhurst School principal Aubrey Norman said the school year was off to a good start with Grade 8 orientation running smoothly earlier in the week. However some parents had left school enrolment too late and were battling to place their children.
There was excitement aplenty at Umtata Community Full Service School in Mthatha.
Principal Luleka Mhlonto said: "There are no glitches. We only have some parents looking for space for their children although registration was closed last year already.''
Makhanda’s Ntsika Secondary School principal Madeleine Schoeman said enrollments had gone well although there had been the usual last minute rush by parents to get their children enrolled.
“It has been busy and extremely hot, hot, hot. But overall it has gone well. We start our second day of school with a leadership programme run by Rhodes University and Gadra and then we are going straight into classroom work.”