MOSSEL BAY NEWS - Parents of Indwe High School children, at their wits' end with overcrowding at the school, gathered in numbers at the school to protest on Monday, 29 March.
According to information from a reliable source, meetings with various parties were held last week, with parents demanding answers from authorities by Friday, 26 March.
"The school has the capacity for 1 200 and now there are more than 1 600 learners. The department merely offers us two extra teachers and we need at least five," the source said.
"When Friday came, the parents, not having received any feedback, met with the student governing body, SADTU and others, and it was decided to assemble at the school on Monday."
Unconfirmed rumours on Sunday stated that the protest would escalate to traffic being disturbed in the KwaNonqaba and Asla Park areas, as well as on Louis Fourie Road, but this didn't transpire.
On Monday, law enforcement officers kept an eye on developments and the spokesperson of the KwaNonqaba Police Station, Sergeant Kappie Kapp confirmed that the learners and parents were picketing peacefully at the school.
The disruption, however, caused the school to close for the day. District officials from the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), Rozelle Neethling-Smith and Jewel Jonkers, engaged with a representative group at the school later in the day.
Bronagh Hammond, spokesperson for the WCED, confirmed that the main issue was too little space. She explained on enquiry that the school was currently implementing the Temporary Revised Education Plans (TREP). This is in line with the directions issued in terms of Regulation 4(3) of the regulations made under the Disaster Management Act, 2002 (Act 57 of 2002). This is because of the State of National Disaster proclaimed because of Covid-19.
Hammond said that according to Section 16 (2) Subject to sub-direction (1), schools may consider and apply any of following available timetable models suitable for their context and functionality: (a) Daily and weekly rotation; (b) bi-weekly rotation; (c) platooning or shifts; (d) traditional and daily attendance; or (e) a hybrid of the latter.
In terms of Section 16 (3) schools with large enough facilities to comply with health, safety and social distancing requirements do not have to change their traditional and daily timetable models and may continue to operate in accordance with those timetable models.
"The school does not have the facilities to bring back all learners and is using all spaces, including the school hall, so it can adhere to physical distancing requirements, while still ensuring as many learners as possible are back at school. Splitting classes obviously affects the space required."
Hammond confirms there are 1 669 learners at the school. She says the school has 42 teaching posts, with the ratio of teachers to learners 1:39.
"However, the district applied for additional posts this year, and two additional posts have been granted, which brings the ratio to 1:37, which is the norm. News of the additional two posts were communicated to the school today (Monday, 29 March), as they have just been approved.
The school has 37 class groups and 40 tuition rooms.
"The WCED is currently engaging with the school management. There is a need to look at the TREP and how it is being implemented at this school.
"Splitting classes requires more space and teachers. However, our allocation of teachers is not based on the type of TREP implemented at each school, as this differs from school to school, but is based on evidence of number of learners at the institution based on 100% capacity and in normal circumstances, as before Covid-19 classes."
At the time of print, no further disruptions at the school had been reported.
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