Pupils in an overcrowded classroom at Quarry Heights primary school interact with their teacher. Picture: Zanele Zulu
Pupils in an overcrowded classroom at Quarry Heights primary school interact with their teacher. Picture: Zanele Zulu
Teachers at Quarry Heights primary school marking exam scripts outside because they don't have a staff room. Picture: Zanele Zulu
Teachers at Quarry Heights primary school marking exam scripts outside because they don't have a staff room. Picture: Zanele Zulu

One hundred and fifty Grade 1 pupils crammed into one classroom is the reality of Quarry Heights Primary School near Newlands East in Durban.

The 14 staff members battle to teach the pupils, virtually packed on top of each other, some of whom pass out because of heat exhaustion.

The school - which is made up of seven prefabricated buildings - caters for children mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has only two taps for the 564 pupils, with no electricity, books or stationery.

The school’s governing body secretary and spokesman, Thami Nzama, said that the school lacked basic necessities and received little funding as it was a “no-fee school”, meaning that pupils did not pay school fees.

“The school was built for the poorer people of the community. We have a staff of 14. The Grade 2 class has 78 pupils; the Grade 3, 57; Grade 4, 70 pupils, and we have a joint class of grade six and sevens with 140 children.

“The other pupils are in Grade R. We have one building for a security guard who stays on the property and another that we use as a kitchen, but it does not have running water,” Nzama said.

He added that the staff did not have a staff room in which to meet and organise their work .

“Our staff room will be anywhere we find shade during the day, whether it be under a tree or prefab veranda.”

The Education Department’s cluster manager, Poobalan Govender, said: “The school is receiving a lot of attention from the department.

“If need be, the department will assist with additional teachers.

“There is a process of interviews taking place for managerial posts, but the school is up and running.”

Dave Meisner and his wife, Krista, of Bridge Ministries South Africa, assist the school by holding fundraising projects such as Christmas parties and soccer matches for the children and food donations.

Meisner said they saw teachers writing out books for the children because of the lack of reading material.

“We are trying to get fans in the classrooms at least, but even if we do get the fans there is no electricity.

“We had to get electricity from a house across the street with extension cables,” Meisner said.

He added that along with the school they were trying to build an orphanage nearby as many parents of pupils had died and they live with their extended families.

Nzama said that the school was appealing for sponsorship and former Model C schools to make donations of old books.

“We are trying to start a mini-library for the children because we do not have textbooks,” he said. - The Mercury