Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said 6 641 schools across the country had fewer than six teachers, and more than 20 000 teachers were forced to practise “multi-grade teaching”, in some instances teaching as many as four grades in one class.
Motshekga was responding to a recent question from DA education spokeswoman, Annette Lovemore, in Parliament.
The Eastern Cape, where the national government has had to intervene in the running of education, has the largest number of schools, 2 333, with fewer than six teachers, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 1 131 schools in this predicament.
Lovemore said that while the DA “understands and accepts the current need for multi-grade classes”, mono-grade classes were “clearly preferable”.
“Curriculum development and university training of teachers focuses solely on mono-grade teaching. Teachers are therefore ill equipped to deal with teaching more than one grade in a class,” she said.
In her reply, Motshekga said that “the department has contracted the Centre for Multi-Grade Education at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) to train teachers in multi-grade teaching”.
But Lovemore said the CPUT website showed just 850 teachers had completed a short course on multi-grade teaching last year, and 150 teachers had attended the course this year.
“Since 2009, 430 teachers have enrolled for the Advanced Certificate in Education specialising in multi-grade teaching. This leaves a current shortfall of approximately 18 700 multi-grade teachers who are still untrained,” Lovemore said.
“According to CPUT, these schools form the most neglected part of the education system. This cannot continue. Children in rural areas often face multiple challenges, including poverty, lack of transport and inadequate access to resources.
“This is another example of how education is denied to children in the Eastern Cape and other provinces with large rural communities,” Lovemore said.
In another written reply from Motshekga this week, the minister confirmed that 12 schools in the Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo had a zero percent pass rate for the 2011 National Senior Certificate examinations.
Lovemore said she would be visiting the three provinces to gather information on the situation in the schools with zero percent pass rates and to determine the success of the national department’s limited interventions.
“The right to basic education is enshrined in the constitution. It is clear that, in certain provinces, pupils cannot rely on the government to establish an environment in which they can thrive,” she said.
By Shanti Aboobaker