An overcrowded primary school class in South Africa

Teachers across South Africa are engaging in protests about the lack of education funding in the country which is resulting in huge class sizes. The protests are being organised by the largest teachers union SADTU, which points out that some classes, particularly in the secondary sector can be as high as 200 as a result of new norms approved by government, which will see insufficient teachers appointed. These high class sizes are predominantly in schools which cater for low-income and rural children.

Instead of tackling the serious underfunding of schools, the state governments are seeking to blame teachers, describing schools as 'underperforming' and threatening dire consequences. As a statement from the Limpopo branch of SADTU puts it, the government is, 'targeting lizards and leaving out crocodiles that are eating the performance of our learners.'

SADTU is organising a series of pickets around the country, demanding a review of the present system of allocating teacher numbers. Protesters are holding placards saying, 'overcrowded classes are a health hazard' and 'end mass meeting classes!'

In a tragic development in Limpopo province over 20 schools have been burned down by protesters angry at a demarcation decision about the town of Vuwani - both SADTU and the education campaigning group Equal Education have condemned the attacks.