Learners and teachers shut down overcrowded Kraaifontein school


“I battle to check whether all 70 learners [in my class] have done their homework” says teacher

photo of protesting learners
Learners and teachers at Bloekombos High School in Kraaifontein are protesting against overcrowding at the school. They are demanding that the education department build another high school in the area. Photo: Vincent Lali

“We want the department to give us another school so teachers can give us the education we so much want,” said Dumisani Ndyolo, a learner and SRC president at Bloekombos High School in Kraaifontein.

He joined over a 100 other learners and parents who shut down the school on Wednesday to protest against overcrowding. The school remained closed on Thursday morning as more learners from surrounding schools joined the protest.

On Wednesday, the school gate appeared locked while learners dressed in red, black and white uniforms stood nearby. “Learners steal each other’s books and stationery from school bags while they shove and push each other in crowded corridors between periods,” said Ndyolo.

Also among the protesting group was France Nyambi who teaches Life Orientation to grades eight and ten. “I battle to check whether all 70 learners [in my class] have done their homework. A period ends while I’m still checking their work,” he said.

Nyambi said that their pleas for assistance from the Western Cape Department of Education had fallen on deaf ears. “The department forces us to keep admitting more learners while classrooms are already full. We request that they give us more teachers to reduce our workload, but they don’t assist us,” he said. The Department has denied this allegation.

Another teacher, Vuyo Duna, said he had 65 learners in one of his classes. “We have to work more than other teachers do. When we do assessments, we struggle to supervise and observe learners properly because there are too many,” he said. Duna said teaches were also battling to grade exam papers and assignments.

Buhlebekhaya Buso, a member of the school governing body, said some learners were forced to write tests outside because there is no space in classrooms. He said teachers have been complaining to the department since November last year.

Department spokesperson, Jessica Shelver, said that the school’s principal and school governing board (SGB) were instructed not to admit more learners as the school was “full to capacity” by mid 2018.

“The SGB and principal have blatantly ignored this instruction. They have admitted far more learners for 2019 than they can manage.”

She said the department would not be building another school in the area, adding that there were other schools in surrounding communities where learners could be accommodated.

This story is developing.

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TOPICS:  Education

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