Overcrowded classrooms hamper quality education

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

Learners in Mpumalanga continue to be short-changed in the quality of education they receive by being subjected to horrific conditions at schools. Such is the case in a school in the Thembisile Hani local municipality where learners are forced to learn and work in a dilapidated and dangerous environment, which is not conducive to learning.

In reply to written questions by the DA, the Department of Education admitted to a poor learning environment at Siphumule Primary School due to severe overcrowding and unsafe infrastructure.

The multi-grade school’s ratio for numbers of learners to a classroom is a shocking 85/1 with the school having 683 pupils, but only 8 out of 12 classrooms in a good condition. The Gr. R class is currently being accommodated in a tin shack and learners of different language groups having to share a classroom. However, due to the school’s dual-medium system, classes for different language groups are taught separately meaning the groups assigned to a classroom have to share it. While one group uses the classroom, the other is forced to have lessons outside.

To add insult to injury, the infrastructure of the school is so shabby that schooling does not take place when it rains due to water-logged classrooms. Teachers are also subjected to dangerous conditions as they have to use an unsafe structure as a staff room.

It is intolerable that these learners, and their educators, are exposed to such horrific learning and working conditions, especially given that the primary phase of schooling is the foundation for senior and tertiary schooling.

Mpumalanga learners will not get the quality education they deserve as long as they are expected to work under such dismal infrastructure conditions. The DA calls on MEC Reginah Mhaule to take drastic and urgent steps to rectify this critical problem which in the long term will offer these learners an opportunity to a better, more prosperous future.

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