BACKGROUND : The South African education system is characterised by a shortage of teachers
and inadequate school infrastructure which is contributing to the overcrowded nature of
South African classrooms. The current national learner–educator ratio (LER) is 33:1, and some
classes have even reported an LER value of 50:1 and higher. The South African LER is more
than double the average of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s
international average of 16:1.
AIM : This research has been conducted to identify overcrowdedness in classrooms as a factor
associated with poor academic achievement.
SETTING : A qualitative research approach served this study best when an investigation was
launched into the impact of overcrowded classrooms in the Foundation Phase in the Tshwane-
METHODS : The study’s sample comprised 10 purposefully chosen participants who are
knowledgeable and experienced in the field of teaching in overcrowded classrooms in the
Foundation Phase. The participants included heads of departments, primary school principals,
higher education lecturers and a department of basic education official. In-depth, semistructured
interviews were conducted with each of the participants.
FINDINGS : Based on the findings, the impact of and challenges (such as didactical neglect,
discipline issues and negative teacher attitudes) related to overcrowdedness was elaborated
on, and practical recommendations were made regarding possible solutions.
CONCLUSION : This study conclude by emphasising the importance of a combined effort between
all role players, such as the School Management Teams and the teachers, when dealing with
the challenges posed by overcrowdedness.