Schools left to sort out MEC’s chaos
THE GAUTENG MEC for Education seems to enjoy being in the media spotlight when pandering to populist viewpoints (such as the hair issue at Pretoria High School for Girls). However, it is time his failures are also highlighted. He is determined that the online registration of Grade 1 and 8 learners should be seen as a success, but in practice it is an unmitigated disaster and gets worse every year.
Last year a meeting was held for concerned parents at a Centurion primary school, where the MEC assured them that every child would be accommodated “even if they had to sit on another child’s lap” (really?) and that containers or mobile classrooms would be supplied to schools which did not have the necessary accommodation.
As the Foundation Phase HOD, and a Grade 1 teacher at another Centurion school which prides itself on its reputation, the first two days of term for teachers have been a nightmare. We have been forced to go from five to seven Grade 1 classes without the necessary classrooms. No mobile classrooms have been supplied, or furniture, stationery or teachers.
With the new 30km zoning, children living within the 5km zone have been refused entry while children from much further away have been admitted. Children who were in our Grade R classes have had to find alternative schools, as have siblings of existing learners. This is not a case of parents taking too long to get on to the online system, as twins, whose applications are clearly submitted at the same time, are placed in different schools. Also 5-year-olds (for whom Grade 1 is not compulsory) have been given preference over 6-year-olds, who have to be in school.
Our school, originally built for 800, does not have the toilet facilities for so many children, so we have constant plumbing problems. Then, one wonders, what must happen next year when there are only five Grade 2 classrooms for these learners? And what are we supposed to do when frustrated parents whose children were not accepted dump their children at the school tomorrow and leave to avoid the resulting confrontation?
MEC Lesufi must concede defeat and allow schools to do their own enrolments again. Spend the money wasted on the online system on new English medium schools and force Afrikaans schools which have space to become parallel medium ones to accommodate the overflow. It is iniquitous that teachers with small classes and every possible resource are paid the same salaries as those in over-crowded classrooms, trying to manage children of up to 11 different language groups.
MEC Lesufi is brilliant at making grandiose promises, but then steps back and leaves the schools to flounder in resulting chaos, expecting them to make things work, then taking the credit.
| APOPLECTIC TEACHER Rooihuiskraal