Lee-Anne Butler HERALD REPORTER
TWO overcrowded high schools in Humansdorp are buckling under the pressure of having to cater for children from 11 primary schools within a surrounding area of more than 200km.
Humansdorp High School and Lungiso Public School must accommodate pupils from as far afield as Jeffreys Bay, Thornhill and Joubertina.
- Pelsrus school is also suffering from over-crowding
And because many of these children cannot afford the travel costs, they simply drop out of school at the end of Grade 7.
Even so, both school are vastly overcrowded. Humansdorp High School, which is supposed to accommodate a maximum of 800 pupils, currently has 1700 pupils, while the 20-year-old Lungiso Public School nearby caters for 750 pupils.
Although there are two former model C high schools in the area, the school fees are more than ten times higher, which the majority of parents living in the surrounding area cannot afford.
School fees at Nico Malan High in Humansdorp amount to R5700 this year, with a 15% price increase set for next year. At Hoerskool Mclachlan in Joubertina school fees are R3450 and an increase is also on the cards.
This is much more than Humansdorp High at R500 a year and Lungiso High at R240 a year.
In Jeffreys Bay, Makukhanye Primary School principal Zanoxolo Kama said finding placement for grade 7’s who went on to high school was problematic.
“Jeffreys Bay desperately needs a high school. I recently needed to make a plea to one of the high school principals for one of our best pupils to attend school there for grade 8. He said there was simply no room,” said Kama.
Pellsrus Primary School principal Ronnie Plaatjies said because there were no suitable high schools in Jeffreys Bay, pupils were forced to travel to Humansdorp when they passed Grade 7.
“There are 1240 pupils at this school and there are also two other primary schools in Jeffreys Bay but there are no high schools. All the pupils travel to Humansdorp when they finish primary school. There are taxis and buses that travel that way,” he said.
“But Jeffreys Bay really does need a high school for the pupils who live here,” Plaatjies said.
Humansdorp High School principal Ivan Geswint said his school was definitely buckling under the pressure of the ever increasing student body. He said a high school in Jeffreys Bay would relieve the pressure on the school.
“This school was built to accommodate 800 learners but at the moment we have 1700 learners. And the figure increases every year,” said Geswint.
He said the school also needed extra classrooms and desks for the large amount of pupils. He said the school was making due with tables instead of desks for some classes.
Geswint said pupils came from as far as Hankey, Kareedouw, Patensie, Jeffreys Bay, Langkloof and Tsitsikamma to attend the school. The hostel could accommodate 200 pupils, and all the other pupils travelled to the school daily.
“Petro SA has offered to build us four new classrooms which will relieve some of the pressure. But we still need another high school to get the school back to the amount of pupils it was built to accommodate.”
At Lungiso High in Humansdorp, deputy principal Zomuxolo Mapakati said the school was fairly new but was already struggling with 750 pupils and not enough desks and classrooms to accommodate everyone.
He said there was a definite problem with overcrowding with most classrooms forced to accommodate up to 50 and 55 pupils.
“We are in dire need of chairs and we do not have enough desks for out pupils. All the pupils in surrounding areas are coming here or going to Humansdorp High School,” he said.
In Thornhill, which is situated halfway between Port Elizabeth and Humansdorp, there are only two primary schools which both share the same school yard.
Thornhill Primary School and Nomzamo Madikizela Primary School also share toilet facilities but have two separate principals.
Nomzamo Madikizela Primary School principal Shumikazi Zuba said the village of Thornhill had a tremendously high drop out rate because of the lack of high schools in the area.
“The closest high school to us is the high school in Humansdorp. The children who go to school here are all the children of farm workers who live here. They simply can not afford to travel that far every day so they just drop out after grade 7.
“Either the department has to build a school closer to us, like in Jeffreys Bay, or they need to organise transport for these children to travel to Humansdorp and back everyday,” she said.
Provincial education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said building a high school in Jeffreys Bay has been in the pipeline for the past four years and that it was on the department’s priority list.
“The previous MEC undertook a delegation to that area that I was a part of. There he had talks with the mayor and also with the district office about building a high school for the area,” he said.
Pulumani said he was aware of the tremendous pressure on Humansdorp High School and Lungiso High School.
“The only thing that is stopping the building of a high school in Jeffreys Bay is budget constraints and other more pressing issues. At the moment there are still schools in the Transkei areas where children are having classes in mud huts and shacks.
“The department is under tremendous pressure and has even approached the national treasury for additional funding to cope with the backlog in the province,” he said.