As school’s country-wide re-open for the 2019 academic year on Wednesday, concerned citizens protested outside on Bergville Primary School in Bishop Lavis.
Around 100 community activists, teachers and parents gathered outside the school between 07h00 and 09h00 holding placards which read things like “We need more teachers” and “No to overcrowded classes”.
They protested various flaws in the education system, including overcrowding of classrooms, lack of teachers and security and failure to provide social services at schools on the Cape Flats.
General secretary of Bishop Lavis Action Community (BLAC) Victor Altensteadt explained that the demonstration was to hold the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) to account.
“In some cases, we have 70 learners for one teacher and that is not ideal. Then there is the violence at schools because there is no access control or law enforcement (at the school). The WCED does not provide psycho-social services to our traumatized students,” said Altensteadt.
Member of BLAC Charl Davis added that there is an issue with overcrowding and security in majority of Cape flats schools:
“We are saying that if basic education is a right then the Education Department needs to ensure there are enough teachers at the school to address that need. The school (also) keeps being vandalized and we’ve been asking that law enforcement be placed at schools to make sure that the school doesn’t get targeted.”
Altensteadt also noted that the matric results “are a sham”, as- according to him- less than half of the learners who started in grade one “actually made it” to matric to sit for the final exam.
He added that Bergville is not the only school where these issues are reoccurring.
“It is happening in all our disadvantaged working-class areas, the main issue is that the principals do not stand up to the WCED and their negligence in performance in our poor communities. These things do not happen within the model-C and private schools and we are saying we have had enough.”
A memorandum of grievances and demands was handed over to the Western Cape Education Department.
Altenstead noted that if a favorable response is not received within 48-hours, the organisation will mobilize more schools and engage in further protest action.
The WCED was not immediately available for comment at the time of publishing.
VOC/ Tauhierah Salie