Overcrowding caused by birth rate – acting education boss

2013-02-15 08:44

Acting superintendent-general for the department of education in the Eastern Cape, Mthunywa Ngonzo, has blamed overcrowding in Pondoland schools on high birth rates.

Ngonzo was commenting for the first time since City Press had reported on overcrowding at Meyisi Senior Secondary School in Flagstaff, where 153 learners in grade 10B were cramped in one class.

He said there were generally many children in the Pondoland areas and fewer schools, which resulted in schools being overcrowded.

“If you look into that Pondoland belt, it is where you find many children. The birth rate there is very high. Also the migration rate of learners outside their local areas is very low. The classroom teacher ratio is very high and this translates into overcrowding,” Ngonzo said.

He said his department was now prioritising the Pondoland area to deal with overcrowding.

“That school [Meyisi] which you are talking about is not immune from the fact that the whole belt is overcrowded ... that is our focus area now in terms of school building,” Ngonzo said.

He said the department’s response to overcrowding was, initially, to provide temporary structures with the intention to build new schools.

Meanwhile, the department also revealed it was in the process of establishing a Mathematics, Science and Technology Academy (MST) in a bid to improve the province’s performance in the subjects.

Speaking at a media conference at the Stirling Leadership Institute in East London, Eastern Cape, MEC Mandla Makupula said the academy – the first of its kind in the province – would be based at the Gali Thembani Youth Development Centre in Queenstown.

Makupula said the main purpose of the MST academy would be to provide in-service teacher training and support to teachers and subject advisors, including incubating and nurturing learners through extra-curricular mathematics and science programmes.

He said the academy was currently training 23 MST coordinators and 60 Dinaledi school teachers on the effective use of mathematics and science education software in schools.

The MEC said they were targeting training 1 200 mathematics and physical science teachers from 500 underperforming FET schools with a pass rate of less than 50% in mathematics and science.

Said Ngonzo: “Maths and science has been made to be a priority of government, so that we build new skills to be used for learners to be able to join the labour market and improve the mainstream economy.”

He said in order for the province to produce learners who can contribute to the mainstream economy of the country, highly skilled teachers were needed.

“Our first starting point is to upgrade and enhance the skills of teachers, that is why we decided to establish the academy,” he said.

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