A teacher faces a packed classroom in a school in Mthatha. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
A teacher faces a packed classroom in a school in Mthatha. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Every new year a sad tableau plays out in SA’s cities. New migrants search desperately for space in the school of their choice. This predictable scenario happens again and again as demand for prestigious schools exceeds supply by a wide margin.

The solution to this crisis is to add a second shift at all schools that are oversubscribed. Shift one studies in the morning and does sport in the afternoon. Shift two does sport in the morning and studies in the afternoon.

This is a win at multiple levels. Pupils have a better chance of getting into the school of their choice, the overburdened taxpayer sees expensive capital assets sweated harder, new teacher jobs are created to look after the second shift, and new capacity is created without increasing class size.

Schools are among the most underutilised capital assets in the country. There are 8,760 hours in a year. In the current system school facilities are only used for a fraction of that time. With a bit of imagination further shifts can be added at night and into the holidays. Every shift added is equivalent to building a new school right in the most prime area.

Doug Heher
Via e-mail