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North West school forced to take classes in restrooms due to overcrowding

───   14:00 Sun, 11 Feb 2024

North West school forced to take classes in restrooms due to overcrowding | News Article
Photo: Pixabay via Pexels.

"The incident compromises the quality of education provided to learners."

A North West school principal has been suspended for allegedly asking teachers to conduct classes in the restrooms due to a lack of space. The incident happened at Nthapeleng Primary School in Matolong Village, outside Taung, on the first day of the school reopening.

Nthapeleng Primary School has 211 learners and seven classrooms, but only five teachers. 

‘The largest classroom can accommodate 34 learners’

While the Department of Basic Education has no official policy on learner-to-teacher ratios in public schools, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said in a reply to written parliamentary questions that the ideal maximum class size is 37 for subjects that accommodate large class sizes. 

Nthapeleng Primary School has one teacher per 42 students, leading to overcrowded classrooms, which affects the quality of learning.

Departmental spokesperson Mphata Molokwane confirmed to OFM News that the principal has been suspended pending investigation for not alerting the department to the situation. 

‘The school has enough classrooms’

Viola Motsumi, Department MEC, upon learning about the incident, dispatched a team of officials to the school to resolve the situation. According to Molokwane, the school has enough classrooms for teaching and learning, but the principal has insisted they resorted to using the restrooms due to a shortage of adequate teaching space.

The South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO) has expressed disappointment at the incident. SANCO spokesperson Mzukisi Jam says the incident compromises the quality of education provided to learners. 

When contacted by OFM News, the South African Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary George Themba declined to comment, saying they needed more time to gather details on the matter.

'At the time of the incident, the restrooms were not in use'

The school was still awaiting an assessment report from the infrastructure unit. This despite the fact that the school had already reopened for the new school year, and pupils had to use pit latrines instead of flushing toilets.

The EFF also raised concerns over the incident, saying the department should do better to address such challenges.

OFM News/Joba Matsheng

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