Schools left to sort out MEC’s chaos

Pretoria News - - OPINION -

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

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