Shortages of teachers and textbooks and belated efforts to enrol children were some of the problems plaguing public schools on the first day of term on Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said.
At Katlehong Secondary School, Gauteng’s worst-performing school with a 16% matric pass rate in 2007, children were in class by 8.30am, said DA spokesperson James Lorimer.
”It’s clear that the shortage of classrooms and teachers is dire. One teacher told us that there are between 60 and 70 children to one class.
”They’ve only got 50% of books for matrics. They only arrived yesterday [Tuesday] and they still have to be stamped. [Provincial minister for education Angie Motshekga] said that teaching won’t be affected, but I doubt that,” said Lorimer.
However, Gauteng education department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said there had been ”no major glitches”.
”The only problem, which is quite disturbing, is that parents are presenting themselves with their children at schools for the first time. It seems to be a general pattern across our district.”
Despite this, he said the ”system will hold” and efforts would be made to accommodate them.
A full report on the situation in the province would be available later in the day.
Kathy Callaghan, from school governing-body association the Governors’ Alliance, said she had been told of queues outside some schools countrywide where parents had had their children’s’ enrolment applications declined.
Despite this parents arrived with their children in full school uniform in the hopes of having them accepted.
”It seems to be particularly at schools that have done well.”
Spokesperson for the Soweto School-Governing Association, Marks Ramasike, said the availability of textbooks would likely pose a problem.
”We anticipate administrative issues, such as textbooks, and it’s going to be worse with Thami Mali being suspended.”
Mali, the Gauteng education department’s chief director of districts, was suspended following allegations of misconduct, including alleged nepotism, in December last year.
In one primary school children had been asked to clean the classroom before teaching could start, Ramasike said.
On Wednesday morning, Ramasike was helping a parent who had been told by a school to go back and certify their child’s birth certificate, despite having the original. The child was eventually allowed to go to class.
Staff at Khulani Primary School in Emdeni, Soweto, discovered that it had been burgled during the holidays and office equipment, including computers containing all school records, stolen. No back-up files had been made.
Ramasike said many children were not in class because there were no buses to take them to school. The majority of them came from Slovo Park, about 10km away.
The president of teachers’ union Naptosa, Dave Balt, said that generally preparations had ”gone fairly smoothly”.
”We’re concerned about teacher shortages, particularly having qualified teachers standing in front of classrooms. We are going to closely monitor the issuing of textbooks and stationary.
”We know that there are a number of schools under enormous pressure — particularly on the East Rand, Ekurhuleni and south of Johannesburg.”
The African National Congress Youth League visited schools in Alexandra on Wednesday.
”We were quite impressed,” said spokesperson Zizi Kodwa.
”At almost 90% of schools we went to teachers were present. There were no reports of teachers missing or absconding, which is quite encouraging.”
There had been some delays delivering textbooks but they were expected to be delivered by the end of the week.
”Clearly there will be 100% functioning, starting on Monday.”
Kodwa said there had been only a few cases of parents arriving at schools and wanting to register their children. These were ”expected exceptions”.
According to DA member of the Gauteng legislature David Quail, 199 more schools were needed in Gauteng. A total of 2 391 teachers a year were needed between 2007 and 2011 in the province, he said.
He said Gauteng was seeing in-migration of between 60 000 and 80 000 children every year, requiring between 60 to 80 new schools.
According to Quail, Gauteng was getting a 16,5% share of the National Treasury’s education budget, while the province had 21% of the country’s population. — Sapa