South Africa’s educational departments are yet to be done with technical and logistic issues. Lots of Schools in the country are yet to have enough classrooms to accommodate all its pupils and this has proved to be more like a nightmare both for school pupils and for teachers who have to strain themselves to attend to their over crowded class rooms.
What seems to be the peak of it all was the discovery of a classroom where over 200 pupils were found seated and taking their classes. This could be regarded as South Africa’s most crowded school.
The 205 teenagers were Grade 11E students of St Patrick’s Senior Secondary School in Libode in the Eastern Cape. The poorly ventilated classroom had the pupils siting shoulder to shoulder with not less than five sharing a double desk.
Not only that, one of the Grade 10 classes was also too full that pupils sat on chairs with their books on their laps because of lack of space for desks.
The no- fee school had just 14 classrooms for the more than 1630 pupils with Grade 8 and 9 pupils sharing a single classroom. The school’s smallest class has 73 pupils which is almost twice the Department of Basic Education’s recommendation of no more than 40 pupils per class.
At the time Sunday Times visited St Patrick’s, some Grade 11C pupils were found writing their test outside the classroom because there was not enough space inside.
Sometimes the teachers will have no option but to cancel some of their classes for other grades during exams. For instance, other grades could not take their classes because Grade 11s and matrics were taking their exams.
The school said they have lodged complains to the education department for several years but are yet to receive a reply.
The Legal Resources Centre, has also helped the school to lodge papers in the High Court in Mthatha on Friday, demanding that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and the national and provincial departments build 10 “emergency” classrooms before the start of the third term in July. The school’s principal Vuyani Langa said:
“We communicated with the [education] department until we were tired of communicating. There is nothing we have not tried, no avenue we have not used.
The conditions are hectic. We are aware that many of the learners are left behind while you are teaching, because nobody can take control of that massive number of learners. The overcrowding of the classes renders teaching and learning inadequate.”
Not only does the school request for classrooms, it also demands for 19 vacant teacher posts filled.
However, the Eastern Cape education department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani criticized Langa for accepting more pupils than his school could handle. He said the principal ignored the department’s order for at most 40 pupils in a classroom.
“The department takes a dim view of instances where principals ignore departmental regulations and allow too many learners in. We’ve taken a position that we are going to charge principals who ignore regulations … it is completely unacceptable,” said Pulumani.
St Patrick’s Senior Secondary School has been recognized for its boast of a 100% matric pass rate in 2014 and a 75% pass rate last year. It offers maths and science, which are not always available at nearby schools.