Pupils in an overcrowded classroom at Quarry Heights primary school interact with their teacher.
This story may well stop me from complaining ever again about class size. I have always been of the opinion that the optimal class size is somewhere between 15 and 25. Anything less than 15 provides the students with a lack of social opportunities, whilst anything more than 25 prevents the teacher from having sufficient 1-on-1 time with struggling and advanced students.
To think that classrooms exist with up to 150 students is just staggering!
One hundred and fifty Grade 1 pupils crammed into one classroom is the reality of Quarry Heights Primary School near Newlands East in Durban.
The 14 staff members battle to teach the pupils, virtually packed on top of each other, some of whom pass out because of heat exhaustion.
The school – which is made up of seven prefabricated buildings – caters for children mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has only two taps for the 564 pupils, with no electricity, books or stationery.
The school’s governing body secretary and spokesman, Thami Nzama, said that the school lacked basic necessities and received little funding as it was a “no-fee school”, meaning that pupils did not pay school fees.
“The school was built for the poorer people of the community. We have a staff of 14. The Grade 2 class has 78 pupils; the Grade 3, 57; Grade 4, 70 pupils, and we have a joint class of grade six and sevens with 140 children.
“The other pupils are in Grade R. We have one building for a security guard who stays on the property and another that we use as a kitchen, but it does not have running water,” Nzama said.
He added that the staff did not have a staff room in which to meet and organise their work .
“Our staff room will be anywhere we find shade during the day, whether it be under a tree or prefab veranda.”
Teachers at Quarry Heights primary school marking exam scripts outside because they don’t have a staff room.
I can’t imagine teaching 150 six-year olds all day in the one classroom without even having a private staff room to retire to at lunch time. I love teaching very much, but those conditions would push my level of job satisfaction to the limit. The amazing part of this story is that the teachers involved are loving the experience.
Credit goes out to the dedicated teachers who work in such an environment. You are a credit to your profession, students and community. May you continue to inspire us fellow teachers, to make every post a winner and overcome all challenges with a quiet resolve and an ever present smile.