KZN’s over-crowded classrooms – the fuse for another revolution

Tom Stokes, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

Despite 18 years of democracy and government’s ongoing promise to prioritize education, a quality learning experience remains out of reach for many KwaZulu-Natal learners with a staggering 670 000 learners being taught in classes of more than 55 pupils.

The shock figure stems from a parliamentary reply by KZN Education MEC, Senzo Mchunu, to written questions posed by the Democratic Alliance, along with extensive research conducted by the party.

The information obtained reveals that there are;

· 42 KZN schools with more than 90 learners per class

· 254 schools where the average class size is above 60

· 934 schools KwaZulu-Natal where the average class size is 55 and above

· 680 schools with more than 40 learners per classroom

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

With conditions such as these, there can be little meaningful interaction between learners and teachers. That 14 000 of the country’s 80 000 educators are themselves either unqualified or under-qualified merely adds fuel to the fire. Consequently, there can be little hope or expectation for a genuine increase in exam results and very little teaching can take place. It should therefore come as no real surprise that the recent ANA (Annual National Assessment) results, particularly in the area of Maths, are so poor.

Both infrastructure inadequacies and the under-qualification of teachers are areas of imbalance that must be addressed with a revolutionary zeal, rather than the reactionary obstructionism typified by SADTU.

This is the stuff that would spark a revolution in other countries but in a country so used to the deprivations of Apartheid education, an inbred tolerance of injustice seems to exist. Quite clearly we are sitting on a powder keg and the fuse has been lit. We simply don’t have another 18 years of silent acceptance from a passive electorate.

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