Usasazo High School in Khayelitsha had a rocky start to the 2021 school year as their pupils were turned away by members of the Harry Gwala branch of the ANC Youth League who visited the school unannounced, raising overcrowding and a shortage of teachers as their main concerns for halting teaching.
On Monday February 15, the members demanded an immediately placement of Grade 8 pupils who had been rejected by the school due to overcrowding.
While schools in other parts of the province and country opened to welcome pupils for the new academic year, teaching and learning at Usasazo could not resume.
The ANCYL members said they had been informed that a number of pupils had been rejected at the school because it could not accommodate all of those who had applied at the school.
ANCYL Harry Gwala branch task team member, Sivenathi Ngqaleka, said many parents were frustrated when they learnt that their children had been rejected.
The school has a shortage of teachers – which the ANCYL said the education department has been informed about.
Mr Ngqaleka said the school is surrounded by five primary schools and it was the only high school in the area, which meant that parents wanted their children to attend Usasazo as it was closer. But he said this then creates overcrowding.
He said they were also informed that there are empty classes but because there is a shortage of teachers those classes could not be utilised.
He said they were informed that 750 pupils had made their application to the school and the school can only take about 200 Grade 8 pupils, leaving the rest to find other schools.
“We want the department to assist the parents to find schools for their children. The incompetence of the department is causing an unnecessary inconvenience to parents.
“We want these pupils to be placed as soon as possible, so that they can also begin with their school year just like everyone else.
“We wanted to grab the attention of the department by closing the school so that they can respond quickly. We are not fighting anyone but we want to ensure that these pupils are placed, “he said.
Mr Ngqaleka said if the department fails to do that it would mean that they do not care about the education of the black child. He said they would leave no stone unturned in ensuring that these pupils are placed.
Kerry Mauchline, spokesperson for MEC of Education, Debbie Schäfer, said the school received over 750 applications for the 200+ available spaces that it has.
Ms Mauchline said the school simply cannot meet the demands of the parents to place more pupils when they are oversubscribed.
She said parents refuse to allow their children to be placed at other schools, where there is availability.
Ms Mauchline said the department will continue to engage with the community on the matter, however, it is simply unacceptable to disrupt schooling to the extent that the school had to close down.
The protesters did not follow Covid-19 protocols and put the safety of teachers and learners at risk.
She said the department has confirmed availability at other schools, but the group simply demands to receive accommodation at this specific school.