11 January 2019

South Africa: 'Overcrowded' Bishop Lavis School to Get More Teachers

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/ GroundUp
Learners walking past about 50 people picketing outside the Bergville Primary School in Bishop Lavis on Wednesday. They are calling for more teachers.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says Bergville Primary School in Bishop Lavis could be getting an additional teacher to assist with overcrowded classes. But is it unclear when this will happen.

This follows a protest by about 50 parents and residents who picketed outside the school on Wednesday. The school's principal, supported by the Bishop Lavis Action Community (BLAC) group, called for an end to overcrowding in certain classrooms, "unacceptable" teacher to learner ratios and poor school safety.

Principal Aleem Abrahams at the time told GroundUp that they were expecting over 70 learners in the grade 4 class alone. A classroom, which was initially the school's hall, was converted to accommodate the large group. Abrahams said that the school had about 419 learners and ten teachers.

On Wednesday, protesters handed over a memorandum, listing their demands, to the Western Cape Education Department's Wayne Hendricks but promised to intensify their protests if the department did not respond by Friday.

Today, the WCED confirmed that the district office had applied for another teacher and she was "confident that it will be approved." Spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the Department was well aware of Bergville's challenges. "This is why the WCED keeps an allocation of educator posts separate to those that were distributed previously, in order to accommodate unexpected growth," she said.

A meeting is to be held next week to discuss safety at the school. BLAC, in a press statement, has welcomed the Department's support. BLAC member Victor Alternsteadt said protest action could be expected at other schools in the area soon where there are similar challenges.

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