The education crisis in the Eastern Cape is set to continue as some primary schools are set to close down because of a lack of teachers.
Philani Primary School pupils in Mdantsane NU7 are studying in fear that their school might be closed any day. This comes after their school had been earmarked to be closed this year. This school has 73 learners from grade five to seven with only two male teachers. The School Governing Body (SGB) said since 2014 they had been begging the Eastern Cape Department for a female teacher with no luck.
When Elitsha visited the school the SGB members were having a meeting. They were called to a meeting in Rubusana District Office regarding the closure of the school. What seemed to be a problem at the time was who would stay with pupils while the two teachers attend the meeting.
According to the SGB members, the closure of a school will create a high dropout rate and crime as most parents are not going to be able to afford to hire transport for their children.
NU7 has three schools, two lower primary schools, Zamini and Songeze, which start from grade R to grade four and Philani High Primary. Most pupils in these schools live with single parents and grandparents.
SGB member, Litha Mda said the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDOE) is to be blamed for the lack of learners at their school. He said a number of learners dropped out because most parents could not trust male teachers with their children.
“Parents made it very clear to the ECDOE that they need at least one female teacher but the department kept on giving us empty promises. Now they are singing a different tune saying they are going to close the school,” said Mda.
“Our fear is that if they close this school we will face a lot of dropouts and most parents are not going to afford to hire school transport for their children. These school will be left for criminals to use as hiding places,” he said.
Grade 7 learner Lufeze Tshauka agreed with Mda saying not all their parents are going to afford school transport to a school further away.
“What we heard is that we are going to be combined with Songeze which is 3kms away from here. There are students who live in 33 section who walk more than 30 minutes to school. Now imagine if we are moved here how long are they going to walk. We had morning classes which start at 07:00; the road to Songeze passes next to bushes we will be targeted by criminals. Closure of our school won’t be fair to us,” she said.
According to Tshauka school transport costs R350 to R400 and she is raised by a single parent who cannot afford to hire school transport for her.
“R350 means all our social grant money will go to school transport,” she said.
We also visited Songeze and were informed that the school has only one teacher excluding grade R.
Questions sent to the ECDOE spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima were not answered.
Recently, the Eastern Cape Eduction MEC reported to a Lekgotla that 219 schools have one or two teachers.