Pupils sit on the floor due to lack of furniture
Schools officially opened on Wednesday and many children returned to classrooms where they sit on beer crates, hard floors, buckets and even concrete building blocks.
There are 6,567 schools with a shortage of school furniture, according to a presentation by deputy education minister Enver Surty to parliament in November.
This means a quarter of SA’s 23,796 state schools are without adequate desks and chairs.
Equal Education researcher Hopolang Selebalo said the advocacy NGO had visited rural schools where pupils “sit on the floor, or sit with books on their laps and squeeze into spaces”.
In November, Surty said the department was short of 1.16 million units of school furniture.
The target for the financial year, which ends in March, was for provinces to provide 643,159 of these items.
The Legal Resources Centre, the NGO that fought the Eastern Cape education department for four years from 2012 to force it to better provide furniture, said the lack of furniture led to health problems, since children sit on a cold floor. The situation also added to disciplinary problems.
According to the parliamentary presentation, the Free State, North West and Limpopo provincial education departments had not provided a single new desk or chair to schools. Gauteng, which is short of 437,543 pieces of furniture, had only delivered 88,900 items.
The Western Cape was the closest to meeting its target, having delivered two-thirds of what was required.
The portfolio committee on education was told that a lack of funding was the chief cause of the furniture shortage, along with furniture being discarded instead of repaired.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said there were numerous problems, including poor furniture maintenance, communities removing furniture from schools, and incorrect figures provided by the education department on how much furniture was really needed.
“You will find it is used for a funeral and makes its way into a community. We appeal to community members to return school chairs,” the education spokesperson said.
Hildegard Boshoff, a DA member of the parliamentary portfolio committee, said: “We are creating a generation that is going to be totally lost. The majority of learners don’t get the education they deserve.” – Times Select..