1. Background

For a number of years the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has been faced with the challenge of providing adequate learner accommodation in the province. The main features of the problem can be summarized as follows:

1.1 Growth in learner numbers

Demographic surveys show that 48 000 people move to the Western Cape annually. In the last decade the number of learners in the school system in the Western Cape has increased by 65 000 learners, from 832 000 in 1995 to 912 000 in 2004. In 2004 alone, the growth has been approximately 24 000 learners.

1.2 Migration and mobility of learners
1.2.1 Growth in learner enrolment and learner mobility makes planning for learner accommodation difficult and explains the fact that there are a large number of under-utilized schools and classrooms in the province as well as overcrowding and shortages of classrooms.
1.2.2 There are a number of ways in which the mismatch between supply and demand for classrooms can be addressed: merging schools, use of bus transport, building additional classrooms, using mobile classrooms etc. However, in order to adopt any of these strategies it is essential to establish guidelines for the capacity of a school.
2. Legislative responsibility
2.1 The Head of Department is responsible for the administration of the admission of learners to a public school. Whilst the admission policy of a public school is determined by the governing body of the school, all applications for the admission of a learner to a public school must be directed to the Department in a manner determined by the Head of Department. Moreover the admission policy of the governing body must be consistent with the South African Constitution, the South African Schools Act and applicable provincial policy.
2.2 If the Head of Department refuses to admit a learner to a public school, the learner or his or her parent may appeal to the Provincial Minister of Education against the decision.
3. Objective of the policy guidelines
3.1 The objective of these guidelines is to articulate clear policy regarding the capacity of a school. This will allow the WCED to manage over-enrolment in some schools and make better use of available space in other schools.
3.2 In order to determine policy guidelines it is important to establish clarity on the following:
3.2.1 A classroom or an instruction space

Instruction space is defined in Circular 0240/2003 as the space in any classroom, including laboratories, specialist rooms and other suitable rooms in a school building that can be used for the teaching of learners. (School halls and forums are excluded.)

Specialist rooms such as science laboratories have been included in definitions of instruction rooms. However, the relevant legislation must be observed, and health and safety issues must be considered for specialist rooms.

3.2.2 Classrooms built with funds from agents other than the State

In terms of Section 37 (4) of SASA "All assets acquired by a public school ...are the property of the school."

As public schools are on State land, the WCED/MEC may prescribe how the buildings should be used. All classrooms at a school will therefore be considered when determining the minimum number of learners per class.

3.2.3 Capacity of a school and teacher:learner ratios

The capacity of a school is not the same as the teacher:learner ratio. The capacity of a school is determined by the number of learners who can be accommodated in a school using a classroom:learner ratio.

4. Establishing the capacity of a school
4.1 The guideline for establishing the capacity of public ordinary schools in 2005 is a sliding scale of 35 - 38. In other words, the capacity of a school for 2005 is a classroom:learner ratio of 1:35 to 38 for all schools.
4.2 Schools which in 2004 enrolled 100 or more learners above their determined capacity must reduce their intake to their determined capacity over the next five years. Further guidelines will be provided to schools in this regard in preparation for admissions during 2005.
5. Managing schools’ enrolment towards their capacity

The following process will be followed in 2004 for 2005:

5.1 EMDC Directors will inform all schools in writing of their learner enrolment capacity on the established norms.
5.2 Schools which enrolled more than the established capacity are encouraged to reduce the number of learners enrolled.
5.3 High and primary schools which in 2005 are under-enrolled, may be requested by the Circuit Manager to enrol additional learners.
5.4 In response to such a request, the principal of a school may motivate for the exclusion of specialist rooms or request consideration of curricular offerings in the determination of the school’s capacity.
5.5 The Circuit Manager will then visit the school to establish the nature and number of specialist classrooms, and make a recommendation to the EMDC Director for his or her further consideration.
5.6 If it is then determined that the school has adequate space for additional learners, consultations will begin with the school governing body (SGB) concerned to enrol up to approximately 38 additional learners at any school. These learners must be enrolled at the grades of entry to the school (for example Grade 1, Grade 8 or Grade 10).
5.7 In certain cases where it is found that the demand for accommodation is very high, the EMDC Director should exercise discretion to utilise the available spaces to ensure that all learners are accommodated.
5.8 Schools in rural towns where there is only one school may be requested to admit more learners than specified in point 5.6 above.
5.9 If agreement is reached on the admission of additional learners, all processes and procedures required by the SGB must be followed.
5.10 If agreement is not reached on enrolling additional learners in 2005, the school may appeal to the EMDC Director who will make a final decision in this regard.
5.11 If additional learners are enrolled, growth posts, furniture and Learner Support Materials will be allocated to schools for 2005 according to the usual norms.

DATE: 2004:11:24