Not enough school capacity for growing community

Even though there are two high schools planned for Mitchell’s Plain next year, teachers are concerned that there is still not enough capacity to have all pupils at school.

This coincides with Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga’s direction that all pupils should return to the daily traditional school timetable as from Monday February 7.

A Rockland high school teacher, who did not want to be named, said that education in Mitchell’s Plain is in crisis because the existing school buildings cannot accommodate the current school population.

“It is not because of the influx of pupils from other provinces. It is the growth of the Mitchell’s Plain population and these pupils must attend schools close to their homes,” she said.

The teacher said that in affluent areas schools received brick and mortar classrooms but in Mitchell’s Plain mobile classes were erected.

“It is inadequate. It is very hot in summer and cold in winter,” she said

The school population is beyond what the building can hold, with up to 55 pupils in a class.

She also alluded to vacant spaces in the area, which could be used to build schools.

“A development plan needs to be put in place,” she said.

With the rotation of pupils attending school on alternative days, the Rocklands school could accommodate more pupils but now running at full capacity the school is bursting at the seams.

“On the other hand we need pupils in school because at home they face gangsterism, drugs and teenage pregnancy,“ she said.

The teacher also confirmed that the new schools would be built on the outskirts of Mitchell’s Plain and once pupils attend school 5km from their home safety was more of a concern and being further away would incur added transport costs.

Millicent Merton, from the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) communication directorate, said the schools would be built in Tafelsig and the Weltevreden areas.

The department confirmed that there are 47 primary and 18 high schools in Mitchell’s Plain, bordered by the R300, Swartklip Road, Baden Powell Drive and Old Strandfontein Road.

Ms Merton said Mitchell’s Plain High School (the old Buckingham Primary School in Merrydale Avenue, Portland, which later became Khanya Primary) opened in 2020 and expanded to accommodate pupils from Grade 8 to Grade 12; and in Lentegeur, Aloe Junior High School became Summerdale High School, to accommodate pupils Grades 8 to 10, to eventually have a matric class in 2024.

“Plans have been submitted for a new high school in Tafelsig,” she said.

Additional mobile classrooms were placed at Westridge, Glendale and Mitchell’s Plain high schools.

Ms Merton confirmed that 70 095 pupils were registered at Mitchell’s Plain schools for this year.

Former Aloe Junior High School principal Fay Daniels, now principal of Summerdale High School, in Lentegeur, said they welcomed the new change.

Aloe Primary School first opened its doors in 1982, after 24 years it became Aloe Junior High School, a middle school for Grade 7 to Grade 9 pupils and is now a fully-fledged high school in 2022, 15 years later.

The WCED approached the school in April last year to accommodate more high school pupils.

“We saw the need because we often have parents crying and pleading for placement of their children and now even with the change we still cannot accommodate everyone,” Ms Daniels said.

She said parents were also to blame for pupils not being at school because they apply to three different schools, as proposed by the department, but do not stick with those placement confirmations.

“They don’t alert the other school that they are placing their child elsewhere or they place their child where they did not apply originally,” she said.