THE desperation and sheer frustration of embattled Eastern Cape schools has been vividly driven home by the class action suit which has been brought against the provincial Education Department in a bid to have the courts uphold our children’s right to decent schooling.
Bhisho should not be surprised that it has come to this. It is a result of the helplessness felt by schools, parents and the Northern Areas Education Forum that the education crisis in the province can ever be alleviated if left in the hands of a department which has repeatedly failed to gets its act together.
When you have a scenario of mounting pressure on existing teachers who are struggling under an ever increasing workload because of a shortage of teaching staff – and this is being played out in endless numbers of classrooms – there is simply no way a quality standard of education can be achieved.
Deteriorating infrastructure and lack of funds paint an even bleaker picture.
It is not possible to give a child adequate attention and ensure the curriculum is sufficiently covered when classes are overflowing and the teacher to pupil ratio is so hopelessly out of sync.
And when principals are forced to teach because there is no one else to do the job, the efficient management and functioning of the institution is severely compromised.
Whether the petition to the high court will yield any immediate remedy remains to be seen but it surely sets wheels in motion – wheels which have ground to a halt thanks to department inaction.
Those fighting to have a catalogue of grievances addressed have felt powerless in the face of broken promises and what they perceive as an unsympathetic education authority.
We believe their voices are becoming all the more stronger and this can only provide momentum to efforts to mend a dysfunctional system.