Classroom shortages: Pupils are still under trees

Limpopo's education crisis persists, with pupils enduring overcrowded classrooms and lessons under trees.

Limpopo Treasury MEC Seaparo Sekoati believes there is hope for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s proverbial Tintswalo in Limpopo, but many disagree, saying there is no chance for Tintswalo to flourish in a province still battling with overcrowding in schools, with some pupils having lessons under the trees.

Last week, Sekoati allocated basic education a whopping R40 billion budget for the 2024-25 financial year. The department got 48.2% of the provincial budget.

This, Sekoati said, was part of the province’s commitment to providing social protection and programmes essential to improving pupils’ performance across all grades.

The same department had set aside R1.5 billion for the construction of schools in the province during the 2022-23 financial year.

Pupils still learning under trees

But some pupils in Lwaphungu Secondary School in Musina were still learning under the trees because of the shortage of classrooms.

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Now, barely a week after the MEC’s budget vote speech, another school in the Jane Furse area of the Sekhukhune region has a similar problem.

“Children are fainting in the middle of lessons between the teaching periods,” said Sango Combined School governing body chair Joe Masha yesterday.

“Some are sleeping because of the unbearable heat due to overcrowding.

“Teaching is also difficult for teachers as they cannot move to the chalkboards or to check the work of pupils.”

15 classrooms to accommodate 1 047

He added: “The school has only 15 classroom to accommodate 1 047 pupils.

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“Because of this, some grades have lessons under the trees.

“On rainy days we are forced to squeeze them into the already overcrowded classrooms.

“When push comes to shove, we release them to the comfort of their homes.

“When it is hot, snakes, scorpions and lizards fall down from the tree branches onto the pupils.

“This is not only dangerous but also disturbs their concentration. But when the pupils fail at the end of the year, we, as parents, are to blame,” said Masha.

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He said the school governing body has approached the department about the problem on several occasions to no avail.

“We then approached the Democratic Alliance (DA), which helped with a media statement. You know the power of the pen. I can assure you they are running up and down now as I speak trying to conceal the problem.”

School infrastructure backlogs and classroom shortages

Yesterday, Lindy Wilson, DA member of the provincial legislature in Lebowakgomo, said school infrastructure backlogs and classroom shortages were affecting the quality of education in Limpopo.

She said the shortage of classrooms in Limpopo has contributed to the high dropout rate, with 54 000 pupils dropping out of school between Grade 10 in 2021 and Grade 12 in 2023.

The party has written to education MEC Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya requesting an urgent intervention.

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Department aware

In response, the department said it was aware of the problems facing the school.

It said the school governing board (for Laersdrif) raised concerns about the realignment of the schools to the extent that the issue was escalated to the National Association of School Governing Bodies.

“The department will dispatch a team to conduct more investigations and provide necessary support for the school,” the department’s acting head of communications, Mosebjane Khaffe, said yesterday.

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budget Cyril Ramaphosa Limpopo pupils school treasury