TOP LEVEL: Left: Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and her spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi. Pic. Martin Rhodes.
TOP LEVEL: Left: Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and her spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi. Pic. Martin Rhodes.

WHEN schools reopen today the Basic Education Department expects problems of overcrowding and derelict buildings in rural areas.

Basic Education spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said yesterday: "The minister (Angie Motshekga) received a report from the provinces and we expect overcrowding in Gauteng schools and shortages of infrastructure in rural schools."

Gauteng expects about 20000 late registrations. The Gauteng education department said mobile classrooms were on standby for deployment to various areas where there were space pressures.

But Lesufi said this problem would be fixed by the end of the week.

"Wednesday (today) will be kick-off at all schools. We have made progress in terms of preparing for the school year."

Lesufi said the department was pupil transport.

"During the first week of school we will have problems because we never know how many new pupils have registered in schools," he said.

"The problems are usually sorted out by the end of the week since parents are eager to have their children educated.

"Since we are coming out of a recession and the December holidays we expect more pupils to be on the School Nutrition Programme. In the first two months we usually have more pupils on the programme but as the year progresses some get off the scheme.

"We have asked our suppliers to put add an extra 2percent to what they normally prepare for pupils," Lesufi said.

This week the teacher unions, the South African Democratic Teachers Union, National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa and Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie, called for the signing of a social contract with other partners in the sector to improve education.

The unions have urged the Education Department to act on the provisions of the Schools Act.

Sadtu president Thobile Ntola said the Schools Act stipulates that parents who do not take their children to school should be arrested.

Unions have also reminded the government of its role in supporting teachers and lifting education out of the doldrums.

Among other things the organisations have suggested an "address of the systemic problems: Lack of resources in the poorest schools and the uneven performance between provinces".

The unions also said there was a need to "develop and support teachers who are confident in subject matter and teaching techniques".

The teacher unions said it would take between six and 12 years to improve the public school system.

This academic year the winter holidays will be a week longer because of the Fifa World Cup.

Earlier, Basic Education spokesperson Granville Whittle had said there was no need to have a holiday plan since pupils also had to enjoy the soccer tournament.

Sadtu regional secretary Ronald Nyathi said: "We are confident that there will be teaching in the first period tomorrow (today). We promise that there will be fewer strikes this year and we will also reduce the number of meetings we have with our members."

Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy is expected to visit Soweto schools this morning.