Learners are sitting on the floor in this Upington school

Yet the MEC said schools in the Northern Cape were ready

By Selby Nomnganga

15 February 2022

Grade 3 learners at Vela-Langa Primary School in Upington battle to do their work on the floor. Photo: Selby Nomnganga

Learners at an Upington school started the school year sitting on the floor as the school’s classrooms are overflowing.

When GroundUp visited a grade 3 class at Vela-Langa Primary School in Paballelo, seven learners were seated on the floor. Yet 12 learners in the class of 45 were absent, so when everyone is present the situation will be even more difficult. In another grade 3 class with 45 learners, there are only 25 chairs. Only nine learners were absent when GroundUp visited.

School Governing Body chair Themba Smith referred GroundUp to acting principal Boitumelo Mmusi who did not answer our questions.

A class teacher said the learners’ handwriting suffered when they had to sit on the floor.

In an interview on 14 January, MEC for education Zolile Monakali told Newzroom Afrika “all our schools will be ready to accept our learners back.”

On 9 February GroundUp sent an email to Monakali’s media liaison officer Geoffrey van der Merwe asking why learners are sitting on the floor when the MEC had said the schools are ready.

On 11 February van der Merwe replied that: “The Northern Cape Department of Education can confirm that the first week of schooling on the full-time return of learners in the overall went very well. A number of challenges were reported by schools as it relates to the need of additional educators, school furniture and learner transport provisioning. These isolated challenges are being attended to, whilst some have already been resolved.”