Cape Town - More than 105 000 children from the Eastern Cape have enrolled in Western Cape schools since 2010, costing the provincial government R1.2 billion, Education MEC Donald Grant has announced.

At a press conference on Thursday, Grant said that in the four school days from January 30 to February 5, the Western Cape Education Department enrolled 1 571 children from the Eastern Cape.

The average high school can accommodate 1 200 pupils and the average primary school 1 000 to 1 200.

In total, 131 834 children from outside the province – 80.2 percent of whom were from the Eastern Cape – were enrolled at Western Cape schools from 2010 to this year.

“If we consider the fact that an average school accommodates 1 000 learners, the migration of 20 000 learners each year indicates that 20 additional schools would be needed to accommodate these learners. In the past five years, this would indicate that over 100 schools would be needed to accommodate the 105 850 learners from the Eastern Cape alone.”

Lwandle in Strand, Mfuleni and Delft were among the areas that had seen high levels of new enrolments from the Eastern Cape.

Grant said the department’s infrastructure plan had to take into account areas into which Eastern Cape pupils were moving, and over the past four years 17 schools had been built in these “hot spot” areas. Fifteen more schools were being built.

He said pupil migration happened in every province throughout the school year as parents moved to look for new jobs or better education opportunities for their children.

Grant said the provincial government was committed to providing all pupils with access to quality education, including those who had arrived from other provinces.

“We must, however, be cognisant of the fact that the large numbers of inward migration to this province does have financial and planning consequences. It also impacts (on) the provision of education resources and the overall management of the system.”

Publishers had, for example, been asked to keep reserve stocks of textbooks but, if needed, photocopies from textbooks were made for pupils. Additional mobile classrooms had also been placed at certain schools.

Grant said there were enough teachers in the province.

Jonavon Rustin, provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, said the Western Cape was not the only province experiencing inward migration. The department needed to ensure that the number of teaching posts was sufficient. Rustin said if about 24 000 pupils migrated to the province this year, and the average class size was 40, about 600 teachers were needed.

[email protected]

Cape Argus