A group of disenchanted parents, teachers and community activists picketed outside the Bergville Primary School in Bishop Lavis on Wednesday to highlight their dissatisfaction with a "disproportional" learner-to-teacher ratio and overcrowding. Photo: Facebook/SABC

Cape Town – On the first day of school Bergville Primary School principal Aleem Abrahams admitted "we have a situation where we have, in some classes, 72 learners in a classroom that has been built for 30 learners". 

A group of disenchanted parents, teachers and community activists picketing outside the Bishop Lavis school on Wednesday highlighted their dissatisfaction with a "disproportional" learner-to-teacher ratio and overcrowding, claiming the high drop-out rate is due to there being only one teacher for every 70 pupils, which was dismissed by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).

It appears the WCED has finally concurred after a memorandum of grievances and demands was handed over to a representative and WCED officials met the leadership of the school. 

The WCED has since put in in an urgent request for extra staff. 

"We met the department this morning at the district office, with senior officials," said Aleem Abrahams, principal of Bergville Primary School, News24 reported. 

"I am very thankful to the department for responding so positively," said Abrahams. 

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department's district office applied for another teacher post for the school and they were confident that it would be approved.  

"The district has supported their application, which was submitted yesterday, for an additional assistant post as their learner numbers have now climbed over 400," she said. 

They don't know when the new teacher will arrive, but Abrahams said it meant they would be able to put the pupils back into two classrooms instead of keeping them in the school hall. 

On Wednesday, Abrahams said that trying to teach in a school hall was near impossible. He likened it to little more than controlling a crowd. 

Hammond explained that the department kept extra teachers in reserve at the beginning of the year because they were never absolutely sure how many pupils would arrive at each school on the first day.