State-of-the-art Menzi Primary School in Tsakane. Picture: @Lesufi/Twitter
DURBAN - Have you ever faced a group of 20-plus children who have not yet been schooled in workable classroom etiquette? Who have never “lined up”, “kept quiet”, “sat still” to attend to announcements or addresses”? Who have not learned polite interaction with others in groups, nor experienced pragmatic turn-taking?

Diverse temperaments, language skills and the social maturity levels of pupils require educated class management of staff.

But consider what it’s like when there are 50 to 100 facing you! In classes where they sit three to a desk, or more! Where there aren’t enough books or tablets?

The official classroom size allowed by province varies: 33 to 38 in primary schools and 27 in secondary schools.

Everyone’s frustrated pipe dream. As for the need for individualised attention? Much neglected. Numbers put a sorry limit on what’s humanly (and humanely) possible!

Does overcrowding matter, besides impeding good progress towards a pass mark? Yes! Some parents see “marks” as the only yardstick that measures school progress! Others, in understandable despair, are resorting to home-schooling at the expense of this experiential social learning about community living.

Yet a major function of “schooling for democracy” is social education, to humanise and civilize. To actualise the spirit of ubuntu. To live and experience love of and respect for our neighbours.

Children who have not learned respect for give and take, the subtleties of public authority and the individual rights of one another will bully and use the power of the mob.

Now we are reaping this educational deficiency on our streets, emerging first as legitimate protest, but often erupting into mob violence. It is even modelled sometimes in our majority Parliament.

What are our priorities? We must weigh them up very carefully now that elections are coming!

- THE MERCURY