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School CP - January 1998

The Star, Johannesburg, 30 January 1998

Rushing into school not because they're keen, but need a seat

By Bunty West

Children at Allanridge Combined School rush to class, not because they are particularly keen to learn, but late arrivals must stand through the lesson.

Overcrowding, and too few desks and chairs mean many pupils at the Midrand school write notes leaning on a wall.

The school looks over the formal and informal settlements it serves. Built in 1987 for 900 Afrikaans-speaking children, today it is parallel medium (teaching separate English and Afrikaans classes), with 1 600 pupils from Grade 1 to 12.

The modern building has space to grow but, according to teachers, the Gauteng Department of Education doesn't have money for extra facilities.

This leads to classes as big as 80 children.

Although the school also teaches in English, there are no English textbooks and, despite delivery promises, most work pupils receive is photocopied.

Several teachers, none of whom would be named, blame the department for their woes.

They say they warned the GDE the school would not be able to cope in the early 1990s when the informal settlements began to spring up. As people moved in, the need for schools increased, yet Allanridge is the only school in the area.

The school had the worst matric pass rate in the Central District 5 area in 1997, with only 24 children matriculating.

Many of the pupils did not pass end-of-year exams and they say there's little chance of a higher pass rate this year.

With 36 permanent and eight temporary staff teaching the 1 600 pupils, teachers have no time for individuals. According to pupils and teachers discipline is lax.

"Discipline is needed and if that means corporal punishment, then it must be brought back. The kids laugh at detention," teachers said.


All Material copyright Independent Newspapers 1997.

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