Four million pupils are set to return to school in January only to face another year of standing in class.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed in a written reply to a Parliamentary question on Friday that schools across the country need three million desks and four million chairs.
She provided shocking figures, showing that in Eastern Cape only 790 of the 5, 600 schools had a desk and chair for every pupil.
This means that 86 percent of all pupils in the Eastern Cape will go without a chair and a desk until the province gets the 900, 000 chairs and 760, 000 desks it needs.
More than 90 percent of Limpopo schools do not have enough desks or chairs, while in Mpumalanga and North West the figure is 80percent.
The picture is just as bleak in other provinces: 76 percent of schools in Northern Cape and 75 percent of KwaZulu-Natal schools don’t have enough desks or chairs.
In Gauteng the figure is 65 percent, and in the Western Cape about 58 percent of schools need 264, 000 desks and chairs.
Pupils in Free State are better off – only 45 percent of schools there lack the desks and chairs needed.
Motshekga said the basic equipment was the responsibility of the provincial departments.