Protesting pupils demand that the Northern Cape Department of Education addresses the dire shortage of teachers
MATRIC pupils at Dr EP Lekhela Secondary School in Kimberley are teaching each other maths and history due to a shortage of teachers at the school.
Tyres were set alight at the entrance to the school on Wednesday, with frustrated pupils indicating that they would not return to the classroom until the dire shortage of teachers was addressed by the Northern Cape Department of Education.
“We come to school early, at 7am, and stay after school to help each other with the syllabus because we do not want to fall behind. However, we do not know if we are teaching each other in the correct manner, especially in maths. We decided to protest because the department is not doing its work in ensuring that we have teachers in critical subjects,” said the pupils.
They added that a student teacher had been assisting them with history lessons during the beginning of the term.
“We used to attend extra classes over weekends to catch up on the syllabus. The school was paying him from profits made from the tuck shop. However, he left after 15 days as the school was no longer able to pay him for his services when the tuck shop closed due to Covid-19.”
The matric pupils said that they had been without a maths and history teacher since the beginning of the year.
“Grade 8 classes do not have history and English teachers,” they added. “How do they expect to improve the pass rate if there are no educators? We have not been able to write any assessments or tests in these subjects this term.”
Pupils have also complained about the toilets that are malfunctioning and leaking.
“We wanted to march to the department’s office to highlight the problems at the school but did not have transport.”
Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe expected schooling to resume from Thursday.
He said that two teachers would be able to start at the school as from Thursday, depending on their availability.
“The need for additional teachers arose due to an increase in the number of pupils in the Frances Baard District for the 2021 school academic year. The department has clearly outlined the processes to be followed by schools before providing additional educators to schools,” said Van der Merwe.
He explained that the staff establishments for all schools were already issued in September 2020.
“Some schools experienced the need for additional educators due to the increase in enrolments this year. The district office concluded its verification process and the school (Dr EP Lekhela Secondary School) was provided with two additional educators. The school was given the go-ahead for the educators to start as from tomorrow (Thursday), depending on whether the educators are readily available and match the profile of educators required.”
Van der Merwe added that the department was also assessing the status of ablution facilities at schools throughout the Province to determine where maintenance needs to be done.
“It is of utmost importance that all schools have proper functional ablution facilities and a sustainable water supply, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure a hygienic and safe environment for our educators and learners. We expect normal schooling to resume by tomorrow (Thursday) at Dr EP Lekhela Secondary School.”