Visitors find 177 pupils in a classroom

Abongile Mgaqelwa

A GROUP of leading South Africans on a solidarity visit to Transkei schools to raise awareness about the schools’ infrastructure crisis, received more than they bargained for when they arrived at Putuma Junior Secondary School in Mqanduli.

Aside from a lack of furniture the school has a massive overcrowding problem, with all but two classrooms accommodating more than 100 pupils.

The Grade 1 classroom accommodates 177 pupils. In Grade 2 there are 140 pupils, Grade 3 has 143, Grade 4 has 66, Grade 5 has 110, Grade 6 has 135, Grade 7 has 103, Grade 8 has 102 and Grade 9 has 99 pupils.

The school was visited yesterday by the group of prominent academics, activists and authors led by Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba. The delegation included novelist and playwright Zakes Mda, constitutional law scholar Prof Pierre de Vos, academic Prof Njabulo Ndebele and human rights activist Elinor Sisulu.

They saw the deplorable conditions under which many Eastern Cape children were forced to learn.

At Putuma, desks are non-existent and pupils make makeshift desks from old chairs supported by bricks or concrete blocks.

Some pupils were forced to sit on bricks in a “first come, first served competition” daily, Grade 3 teacher Nomzekelo Ndibongo said.

There were not many pupils in the classrooms yesterday, due to the recent rains.

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