From the news desk

200 Dunoon students still without a school

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With students getting into the swing of the 3rd term of the 2016 academic year, it has emerged that more than 200 children in Dunoon have not yet been placed at a schooling institution; a result of overcrowding at the area’s respective schools. This comes seven months into the current academic year, with many students still on waiting lists from 2014.

The parents of those students in question, who are being represented by NGO Equal Education, held discussions with the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) on Tuesday to address the crisis. Residents are seeking both short and long term solutions to resolve the issue.

In the interim, parents and students have been occupying a temporary facility since the start of the most recent school holidays, using it as a ‘makeshift’ school to house those who have not yet been placed.

“The reason they took occupation of this temporary structure is because at the end of the second term, a new school was completed and learners moved from this structure to that school,” explained Equal Education’s Dmitri Holtzman.

Whilst a new school has been built, department officials have confirmed that the facility houses around 1600 learners; well over its 1200 capacity. Holtzman said this emphasised the broader issue of overcrowding at schools in the Dunoon area.

The crisis has led to a sense of frustration amongst parents, especially at a lack of assistance from local councillors, as well as the failure of the WCED to provide an adequate response to their concerns. To ensure those unplaced students were still getting some form of education whilst effectively in limbo, parents, with the help of Equal Education resorted to having volunteer teachers come in to look after the children.

A community meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, in which the WCED will be given a chance to respond to the concerns of parents, and detail how they plan to resolve the issue.

“It is concerning for us, but we have tried to facilitate at least a gathering to take stock of the extent of the problem, giving the department the opportunity to look for an example of turning that temporary structure into some kind of temporary school. This is until they can find a long term solution to this particular issue,” he said.

Apart from Dunoon, overcrowding has become a major concern for parents in many other parts of the city as well.

“In essence there is a definitely a shortage (of schools) and an overcrowding issue in the province. It is something we are going to be monitoring, and i think both need a process of consultation between the department and the respective communities,” he added.

The list of about 200 unplaced Dunoon children compromise students between Grade R and Grade 5. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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