How many kids in a class?
What number of kids can a teacher reasonably be expected to teach?
(Shawn Benjamin)
My Grade 7 (okay, Standard 5) class had 44 kids in it. I distinctly remember a back row of overgrown pubescent boys who really didn’t follow anything, and regularly got the blackboard duster thrown at them.

Forty children in a class were just too many, even with the relatively tough discipline ethos of that time.

Attending government schools now, my children have been lucky enough to be in classes of around 30 or so, just under the national average which is 32.6 learners per teacher, according to

The ratio stipulated by the South African government is 35 learners per teacher but in truth around one in four schools struggles with over 45 learners in the class, according to a report done in 2008.

Class sizes around the world

To have around 30 learners in a class seems to be reasonably close to the international average - in comparison to the more affluent countries included in a study published last year by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Looking at European countries, the United States and the East, classes in the studied countries varied between 35 and 18. It must be noted, though, that no African countries were included in the study.

Among the countries with the larger number of learners were Japan and Korea, widely thought to have very intense education systems. Some commentators suggested that cultural notions of respect allow for these nations to have effective teaching in a bigger class.

Countries with smaller classes were the Russian Federation, Iceland and Denmark. The United States and United Kingdom were in the middle of the group, with 24 and 22 learners on average respectively. In America, some schools have had to slightly increase class sizes to cope with the economic downturn, says The Wall Street Journal.

There seems to be a general agreement that more than 30 is too many for the average teacher to cope with while still achieving education aims.

Once we get to classes of 50 and 60, it’s a resourceful teacher who can even learn everyone’s names by April, let alone get any meaningful idea of their specific educational needs.

How many learners are in your kid’s class? Does it work well?

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