Classes at Tinley Manor Primary School near KwaDukuza have up to 120 pupils.
Last week, residents kept out pupils and teachers at the school based in Velani township, Itete, in KwaDukuza. The school has seven blocks and nine classrooms, and caters for more than 1400 pupils and it is the only primary school in the area.
Residents claimed they were assured on several occasions that renovations would be conducted to accommodate the high number of pupils at the school.
However, the department had failed to act timeously, they alleged.
Department of Education spokesperson Sihle Mlotshwa said they were aware of the matter.
“The school is in a design stage and the construction work at the school is scheduled for September. We urge the community to co-operate with the department so that teaching and learning are not delayed any further,” said Mlotshwa.
School governing body (SGB) member Mncedisi Mkhathini said teaching and learning were a nightmare.
“Imagine being a teacher and having to sit in a class with 120 pupils around you. In some instances a single classroom was being split into two. While one teacher taught half the class one subject, another teacher worked on another subject,” said Mkhathini.
He said the community had taken matters into their own hands as a last resort.
“We just asked the teachers and pupils to evacuate the school and we locked the gates,” said Mkhathini.
He said an official letter had been sent to the department to make them aware of the community’s grievances.
“The letter was written by the SGB together with the ANC Youth League in the area, who supported the idea of extending the school. It states that the renovations need to start in three months. If the department failed to respond, then we are forced to close the school.”
Mkhathini said the school would be closed until Wednesday, when they expect to receive feedback from the department.
“If the feedback is positive, we’ll open the school. If not, the school will remain closed. What’s the point of telling children to go to school knowing they will perform badly due to overcrowding? They said construction would only start later this year but we cannot accept this. The children will be the ones to suffer.”
A teacher at the school, who asked not to be named, said the situation was dire.
“We cannot do our jobs properly because of the situation and the pupils are unable to learn. We need immediate action,” said the teacher.
The Youth League’s Sphamandla Khumbuza said they had ran out of options.
“This dates back to 2004 when we were promised that the school would be renovated,” said Khumbuza.