Billions Needed To Eliminate Overcrowded Classrooms

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Overcrowded classrooms continue to hinder the ability of children to learn in schools around South Africa. The issue of overcrowded classrooms has resulted in a Gauteng school being closed for days as concerned parents demanded answers.

 


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Concerned parents of learners attending Finetown Secondary School in Gauteng shut down the school. The school, which was built in 2010, initially only accommodated learners in Grade 8 and 9. However, as years passed more classrooms were added.

The school has no brick and mortar classrooms and only makes use of mobile/container classrooms to accommodate learners.

Questions have since been raised in parliament as to what the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is doing to address the issues of overcrowding in classrooms. The DBE explained that challenges of overcrowding are common in schools serving informal settlements due to non-stop immigration to such areas which cannot be planned for. 

It is estimated that R5 billion will be required to add around 16 000 classrooms to address overcrowding in South African schools. This includes Finetown Secondary School.

The DBE says funding is currently unavailable to the sector due to budget constraints as the country focuses on rebuilding flood-ravaged areas of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and North West.

The Gauteng Education Department (GDE) has allocated R1.7 billion or 2.9% of its annual budget to infrastructure development in the province.

Gauteng currently has 38 schools that are still on rotational learning, mainly due to overcrowding and the decision to return all learners taking effect in the middle of the current academic year. Gauteng Education MEC Payanza Lesufi said a decision was taken by the department to eliminate rotational learning and increase learning time for Grade 12 learners in the province.

Lesufi said the department's position remains clear and allows our children to attend school while infrastructure is being developed.

“We are, indeed, aware of the campaign and protest and many people complaining about overcrowding in our schools. In Gauteng, we have taken a conscious decision that every learner that is supposed to be at school must be in our classrooms regardless of the size of our classrooms. We will never turn a learner back on the basis that our classrooms are full. We will tackle the issues of overcrowding while learners are within the classroom learning rather than staying at home doing nothing”, explained Lesufi.

 

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