Mfuleni school battles overcrowding

PHIRI CAWE

Classes at Mfluleni Primary School are even more overcrowded than usual, after the school was forced to accommodate more pupils due to pressure from parents who staged a sit-in at the school on Thursday January 21, demanding their children be enrolled.

Principal Vela Ntobongwana said the school, situated in a relatively old area, has been enrolling many children from newer areas as well as the nearby informal settlements. He said overcrowding is a concern for the school and teachers alike.

Mr Ntobongwana said there had been an influx of new pupils into the area every year.

As a result teachers had to sacrifice their staff room and the school library for additional classrooms. Staff now use a computer lab for briefings.

“Year in and year out we are faced with this problem. The problem in Mfuleni is that people relocate from other areas, but there are not enough schools. This causes a problem. The area that we are in … needs another primary school,” he said.

Mr Ntobongwana said he hoped the school would be expanded. In the meantime pressure is mounting on teachers to produce good results.

The school has five Grade 1 classes. But he said that is nothing compared to the previous years.

“This school needs an expansion. We used to have eight Grade 1 classes. But this year we had to make them five because of overcrowding in other grades,” he said.

His deputy, Nozipho Mbasa, said learning and teaching had been delayed because of late registration. She said the school could not start early because of those who came late.

“Parents were not getting (their children into) schools so they came here. This forced us to create the two classes in the library and staff room. We had to take Grade 6D to the staff room and Grade 2E to the library.

“This means our children will not use the library. The staff are using computer laboratory which children will have to use soon. This is what we are faced with,” she said.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) admitted to having a problem with overcrowding at the school. It said it was working around the clock to provide help. “We are aware that the school is extremely overcrowded. We know that. But our district officials are working hard to help the school. We will make an announcement soon,” said education department spokesman Paddy Atwell.