The Department of Education in the Eastern Cape has expressed its concerns over overcrowding at schools in the province.
The Eastern Cape Education Department has complained that schools are compromising the quality of teaching and learning by accepting more learners than they should.

In a strongly-worded circular sent to principals and districts, the provincial department’s head, Themba Kojana, ordered schools to stop admitting under-aged learners and enrolling learners weeks after the academic year started.

Kojana also instructed schools to desist from admitting more learners than allowed. A large primary school was allowed 930 learners, he pointed out. A secondary school can admit 1000 pupils.

“The department has noted with concern that some schools are not administering learner admissions properly,” Kojana said.

“(They are) admitting learners who are under age in Grade 1 and admitting learners up to the end of the first term of the year.

“Consequently, late learner admissions impact negatively on the quality of teaching and learning, and affects contact time, time on task and learner performance.

“The proper administration of learner admissions will afford maximum contact time which will in turn improve the desired learner outcomes and performance,” Kojana said.

The Eastern Cape was known as one of the provinces that performed badly in basic education. It took the second last position in matric results last year.

Kojana reminded principals that teachers were allocated to schools based on learner numbers evaluated ahead of the academic year.

“It is further noted that school principals are admitting learners that are more than the figures declared in the Post Provisioning Norms (PPN) distribution and that creates problems when it comes to allocation of posts to subjects,” he said.

“There are schools that have exceeded the norm for learner enrolment.”

Kojana warned schools that they would not get additional teachers if their decision to take in more learners was not approved by him.

“The schools must make a written request to the head of department if there are valid reasons forcing them to admit more learners.”

Small schools, some of which offered multigrade teaching, suffered the worst when they took in more learners as they would not get additional teachers.

Said Kojana: “The scenario is further complicated by a number of small schools that are offering diverse curriculum streams with limited human resources and thereby compromising quality.“The principals of public schools must ensure that all learners, especially those of compulsory school-going age, access admission without any unfair discrimination.”

He threatened disciplinary action against principals going against the circular.

“You must further note that the head of department has a right to implement consequence management to an individual or structure that is violating the contents of this circular, using relevant legislation.”

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