“We are packed like sardines” say protesters at Gugulethu school

Parents and schoolchildren join teachers’ protest against overcrowding and unpaid salaries at Mseki Primary

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Photo of protesters
School children protest as Mseki Primary School in Gugulethu on Friday. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

On Friday, teachers, parents and schoolchildren disrupted schooling at Mseki Primary in Gugulethu. The protesters say classrooms are overcrowded and that some teachers have not been paid this year.

Students sang and danced in the schoolyard while holding up posters reading: “We are packed like sardines” and “We had enough of empty promises, implement now!”

Phunyezwa Sonqishe, a parent and School Governing Body member, said: “Classes range from 47 learners, and then there’s a Grade 7 class which has more than 60 learners. These classes are full to the point that a teacher cannot even move in between the learners.”

Sonqishe said they had requested permanent posts be made available for three teachers who have been working at Mseki since 2015.

“These teachers were last paid on 27 December and they haven’t been paid since then. The painful thing is that these teachers have families to look after, and they come to school everyday without fail to do their job.

“At one point we contributed as parents, R10 each to help pay them, but that idea was not viable.

“The last time we spoke to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), we were told that one of the teachers does not meet the requirements as an educator; why weren’t we told this before?” she said.

Sonqishe said they would not stop protesting until things changed.

But when GroundUp contacted the WCED, it said all teachers at Mseki had been paid. Department spokesperson Millicent Merton acknowledged that there has been an increase in the number of learners at the school. “As a result, some of the classrooms are crowded. Our district office will assist the school with teaching strategies to manage large classes.”

TOPICS:  Education

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