TEMPORARY TEACHER WORKING WITHOUT SALARY AT FARM SCHOOL: WEEKEND POST

“If the department was monitoring the schools, it would have known the special circumstances at this school and this would not have happened.” — Van Vuuren

A DEDICATED teacher is working without pay to keep a disadvantaged Eastern Cape school afloat after being told by the Education Department that she was one of the 4 000 temporary teachers whose positions had been terminated.

Last week, Theunet van Staden, of Spitzbak Primary outside Jeffreys Bay, realised her salary had not been paid when she tried to pay for fuel to take some pupils to school. She was then informed her contract had been terminated.

Van Staden has been teaching the children since January last year. She started out with only 18 pupils, but her class has grown to 26.

The children’s parents are all farm workers on the outskirts of the seaside town.

“They have taken away a part of my life. Being a teacher is my passion. My dad, who passed away last year, was also a teacher and his first school was also a small farm school,” Van Staden said.

However, she has vowed to continue to invest in the youngsters’ education and has been reporting for duty every day since schools re-opened last week – without pay.

“I promised the kids and the moms and dads that I will not let them down and will continue to school them.”

She has continued to travel the 25km to and from Jeffreys Bay to get to school and pick up some of the children on her way, and has been buying food and other necessities for them out of her own pocket. The department has also withheld its usual monthly supply of nutritional biscuits, which for some pupils often make up the only meal they get all day.

The children also do not have stationery and write with “little pencil stubs”.

When Weekend Post contacted department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani about the issue, he referred to a statement made by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga after a visit to the Eastern Cape on Thursday.

“The recent termination of contracts of temporary teachers has posed a serious challenge to teaching and learning. The provincial department has assured me that a process is in place to address this situation,” Motshekga’s statement said.

She added the province would present the report by Wednesday for a final decision.

DA education spokesman Edmund van Vuuren said:  “If the department was monitoring the schools, it would have known the special circumstances at this school and this would not have happened.”

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