SOWETAN | Prioritise pupils' future, wellbeing

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Image: 123RF

It has been just over a month since schools reopened across the country, but as we reported yesterday, not all pupils have been in class fulltime.

Hundreds of pupils at Noordgesig Secondary School in Soweto have only spent half of their time in class because the school has adopted rotational learning due to shortage of classrooms.

The school is one of 29 learning facilities in Gauteng built with asbestos that were declared unsafe for use in 2022. In October last year, 13 asbestos classrooms at the school were shut down for health and safety reasons, leaving the school with not enough learning space to accommodate all its growing grade 8 to 11 student population.

While the Gauteng department of education delivered eight mobile classrooms to the school, these, according to parents, were neither enough to accommodate all pupils nor are they ideal for learning. The parents and teachers at the school have also highlighted other problems including shortage of furniture.

As a result, learners at Noordgesig must take turns to attend class. Some pupils have spent only 10 days in class since the beginning of the year. Missing class has left some of the pupils struggling academically already – with one parent stating she has seen her daughter’s performance dip this year. Such is the impact that this is having on  pupils.

Unless addressed by the authorities with the urgency it deserves, it could have lingering effects on the future of many pupils and their prospects in life. What is further concerning, according to parents, is that there has been little-to-no-support provided for those who are forced to wait their turn to get into class.

This shortage of classrooms at the school is a direct result of the failure by the Gauteng department of education to plan accordingly and prioritise the plight of pupils. More disturbingly, the provincial education department waited until inspectors had shut down the risky asbestos structures before they could provide mobile classrooms.

How can we expect pupils who are forced to learn under such conditions to perform better at the end of the year? This continued failing of the poor and vulnerable pupils at the school by the Gauteng authorities is shameful.

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