Four schools are facing an overcrowding crisis‚ with some having more than 100 learners crammed into a classroom in the Eastern Cape.
Now‚ the Legal Resources Centre (LRC)‚ representing concerned parents of learners at the schools‚ has turned to the High Court in Mthatha‚ seeking a ruling that will compel the provincial MEC for education to build additional classrooms.
The affected schools are Attwell Madala Senior Secondary School in Mthatha‚ Enduku Junior Secondary School in eNgcobo‚ Dudumayo Senior Secondary School in Mqanduli and Mnceba Senior Secondary School in Ntabankulu.
“The application also seeks to ameliorate overcrowding in schools throughout the Mthatha and Amathole school districts by requiring the MEC submit to the court plans for decreasing the overcrowding at schools in these districts which have not been identified in the government’s existing infrastructure plans‚” the LRC said.
“Overcrowded classrooms undermine children’s right to a basic education as enshrined in section 29 of the Constitution. Regulation 9(2) of the Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure state that ‘acceptable’ classrooms contain a maximum of 40 learners.
“The Infrastructure Norms‚ published in 2013‚ were meant to be phased in over seven years and required the MEC to provide plans for implementing the Norms and to continually report to the Minister of Basic Education on the progress of these plans.”
According to the LRC‚ available plans do not include provision for the four schools‚ where overcrowding has reached “crisis” levels.
“The overcrowding at Mnceba SSS‚ which has 12 classes with more than 80 learners and two classes with more than 100 learners‚ has resulted in teachers holding classes outside under trees.”
Enduku JSS has six classrooms with more than 70 learners and Attwell Madala SSS has six classes with more than 80 learners‚ while almost all the classrooms at Dudumayo SSS have more than 80 learners and four classes have more than 100 learners. The LRC said overcrowding at these schools has made it difficult for learners to hear their teachers.
“Teachers cannot move around the classroom and learners have to mark their own work. Teachers cannot keep track of each student and learners skip school for long periods without being noticed‚” the LRC said.
The MEC has not opposed the case‚ which has not yet been set down for hearing.