Thousands of learners protest in Kraaifontein

Frustration with overcrowded classrooms

Thousands of learners in Kraaifontein protest again overcrowding

Thousands of learners in Kraaifontein protest against overcrowding.

By Ashraf Hendricks

16 May 2019

Thousands of learners from numerous schools in Kraaifontein joined together on Thursday to protest against overcrowding in their classrooms.

The protest, which started outside Bloekombos Secondary School, followed a smaller protest on Wednesday. Some parents joined the protest and shut down the road and school from about 9am. As the day progressed, learners from Masibambane Secondary School, Wallacedene Secondary and Hector Pietersen High all joined. Those schools closed their doors as well.

Parents joined students to protest outside Bloekombos Secondary School in Kraaifontein. They are demanding a new school.

Earlier this week, department spokesperson, Jessica Shelver said that the department would not be building another school in the area. She said that there were other schools in surrounding communities where learners could be accommodated.

A man is beaten up and detained, presumably for breaking into the school.

As students and parents protested in the street, the school was broken into at the back. Burgler bars from two windows had been bent where someone entered. Apparently chairs were stolen. Learners with belts in hand and law enforcement made chase. A man was caught, but it is unclear who beat him up. He denied stealing the chairs and said that they were given to him. He was detained by law enforcement.

Occasionally, protesters prevent vehicles and taxis from driving through the street.

A teacher who wished to remain anonymous said that Bloekombos Secondary School has over 2,000 students when it is only meant to have a maximum of 1,200. The teacher said that his class has 84 learners in them and “half of them are sitting on the floor”. He said that he’s not sure if exams will take place. Exams for grade 12 students are scheduled to start on Friday and other grades on Monday.

There’s so many students that teaching here is crisis control, he said.

Indiphile Mvana, a grade 12 student, said that some of the children will have to write exams outside. “What if it rains?” she asked. Mvana says that there is a shortage of text books and furniture in the classrooms and some classes have one teacher for 80 learners. Mvana said that she is struggling to study like this. “We are demanding a new school”.

On one occasion, a taxi refused to reverse. A passenger who sat in the front got irate and gestured aggressively. When he got out, one of the protesters fell to the floor. He then threatened to bash her with a piece of concrete, but did not.

Thousands of learners from Masibambane Secondary School, Wallacedene Secondary and Hector Pietersen High all joined Bloekombos Secondary School in protest.

“We are the most populated schools here in Kraaifontein,” said Chricentia Masilo referring to Bloekombos and Masibambane Secondary School.

A grade 11 student at Masibambane Secondary, Masilo said that she is aware that government has built other schools, but they must supply free transport. She says that many school are overcrowded because parents can’t afford transport and high school fees.

High school students walk passed a police nyala.

According to the Western Cape Education Department’s 2019’s enrolment figures, 15 new schools and over 480 teachers would be needed to accommodate the increase in students this year. Titled Western Cape schools bursting at the seams the media statement said that the province had an increase of 18,285 learners this year, “16,285 of which are from outside the province” (the statement doesn’t say what percentage increase this is).