Parents complain about overcrowding at Mseki

Parents together with pupils and teachers picketed outside the Mseki Primary School, complaining about overcrowdingat the school and demanding three contract teachers to be employed on a permanent basis.

Teaching and learning were disrupted at Mseki Primary School, in Gugulethu, on Friday February 24, when a group of concerned parents picketed outside the premises.

They were demanding the construction of extra classes and the employment of additional teachers, citing overcrowding as the main reason for their upset.

In some cases, they claim, teachers teach up to 67 pupils at a time.

They charged that the situation made it difficult for teachers to do their work and that at least three contract teachers at the school had not been paid since the start of the year.

They say they have raised their grievances with the education department, but claim to have been ignored and lashed out at the department for “toying with their children’s future and education”.

A contract teacher, who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation, said they were frustrated and angry.

Despite not being paid, he said, they continued with their work because they were concerned about the pupils.

He added that they were supposed to have been employed permanently this year, but had not had further communication from the education department on this. “Since we started, we have been offered three-month renewable contracts,” he said.

“As I’m speaking to you, my vehicle licence has expired. I do not know where I will get the money to renew it.”

Concerned parent Phunyezwa Sonqishe told Vukani that they could no longer sit back and do nothing while their children were crammed into classes like sardines in a can. As parents, she said, they had submitted motivational letters pleading with the department to permanently employ the contract teachers, whom she praised for their contribution to the pupils’ learning.

Ms Sonqishe added that parents had decided to put money together to pay the teachers after they discovered that they had not been paid.

Three weeks ago, she said, they approached the department to seek clarity on the payment issue and were informed the teachers would be paid last week, but that did not happen.

Ms Sonqishe added that they were puzzled when the department told them that the school was not in crisis.

“Teachers are meant to teach a maximum of 35 pupils per class.

“We need additional classes and we want these teachers to be employed here,” she said.

Education department spokesperson Millicent Merton, said an increase in the number of pupils at the school had resulted in some classes being overcrowded.

“Our district office will assist the school with teaching strategies to manage large classes and all the teachers at the school have received their salaries,” she said.