Rough start as disruptions hit some Western Cape schools on opening day
Cape Town - It was a rough start for learners at some schools in the province on Monday as overcrowding, admission problems and staff shortages disrupted the first day of the schools’ reopening.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said disruptions affected teaching and learning at Usasazo High School in Khayelitsha and Lehlohonolo Primary School in Gugulethu, as a result of community members demanding mobile classes and learner placements into Grade 8.
Sivenathi Ngqaleka, the ANCYL Harry Gwala branch task team member in Khayelitsha, said many learners were being rejected at Usasazo High School, and that the school had a shortage of teachers.
Ngqaleka said this situation was forcing learners to look for schools in other areas where crime was rife, and they opposed this because learners were not safe.
“We decided to protest and close the school because we wanted to get the department’s attention, so that they make a plan for our learners,” said Ngqaleka.
Hammond said Usasazo High had received over 750 applications for the 200-plus spaces it has. Therefore, the school simply could not meet the demands of the parents to place more learners when they were oversubscribed.
She said the parents refused to have their children placed at other schools where there was availability.
“We will continue to engage with the community on the matter. However, it is simply unacceptable to disrupt schooling to the extent that the school had to close down.”
Meanwhile, parents and the school governing body (SGB) at Lehlohonolo Primary School confronted WCED circuit manager Matthew Lambert in front of the school gates.
SGB chairperson Mamosi Sekonyela said the school had a problem with overcrowding, and that the community has requested additional mobile classrooms but the department has been rejecting their plea.
Hammond said the department was currently engaging with the school on the matter. She said there was an interim solution with amended timetables.
“All schools that cannot meet the required one-metre rule in terms of physical distancing must implement revised timetables to ensure Covid-19 compliance.”
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the demand for space in schools, particularly in Grades 1 and 8, remained a challenge for the sector, and that all provinces were experiencing a high demand in particular areas.
Motshekga said provinces have made good progress with placements, but there were still 16 117 learners awaiting spaces in schools.
“The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) recently met and the matter of school admission was identified as critical, because the system cannot afford to see any learners being left behind,” said Motshekga.
She said it was agreed that provinces would work with speed to place all the learners within the next week.
“CEM appeals to parents and guardians to co-operate with officials at district level in order to accelerate the placement process.”