Overcrowding still rife in KZN schools

2013-02-12 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education is pumping a hefty R2,4 billion to upgrade infrastructure, but there are still reportedly schools with more than 90 pupils in a class.

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu disclosed this in reply to a parliamentary question put by the Democratic Alliance.

DA MPP Tom Stokes said a quality learning experience remained out of reach for many pupils, with a staggering 670 000 pupils being taught in classes of more than 55 pupils.

The DA found that there were:

• 42 schools with more than 90 pupils per class;

• 254 schools where the average class size was above 60;

• 934 schools where the average class size was 55 and above;

• 680 schools with more than 40 pupils per class;

• 13 schools with no classrooms whatsoever, affecting 2 134 pupils.

There were also schools that needed up to 18 classrooms to cope with overcrowding.

“With conditions such as these, there can be little meaningful interaction between learners and teachers,” Stokes said.

He said unqualified and under-qualified teachers were merely adding fuel to the fire.

“There can be little hope or expectation of a genuine increase in exam results and very little teaching can take place,” he said, adding that the poor Annual National Assessment results were no surprise to him.

The department head, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, blamed the migration from rural to urban areas for overcrowding in schools.

“It’s typical,” he said. “It’s not just schools in KZN, but [also] in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

“Where there is better infrastructure and facilities and better performance, there will always be an increase,” Sishi added.

The department said it continued to try and deal with the infrastructure backlog by upgrading and building new schools.

Sishi said the average urban school had 1 000 to 1 200 pupils, while rural schools had about 500 pupils.

Overcrowding was not the only issue; empty schools were also a problem.

The department was redeploying teachers from smaller schools and distributing them to bigger ones, Sishi added.

Turning to the issue of unqualified teachers, Sishi said that every year the department issued bursaries for students who want to pursue a teaching qualification, especially in maths.

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