TEACHERS TO BE REDEPLOYED AGAIN: THE HERALD

THE Eastern Cape Education Department will soon start its redeployment process, with the aim being to place many excess teachers where they are most needed by January in a desperate bid to halve the expected R2.1-billion over-expenditure on human resources alone.

Intervention coordinator Mathanzima Mweli said the department was looking to correctly place as many of the 8 671 “under-utilised” teachers around the province as possible, with as little impact on their family lives as possible.

The department will begin consultation with the Education Labour Relations Council next month after a workshop involving all teacher unions to break down the R24.6-billion budget and look at what is available for teachers’ salaries.

From there, schools will be issued with a draft of the post establishments for next year, to be finalised by August and made official in September, which will indicate where teachers are in excess and where they are most needed. Teachers will be issued with letters at the end of the year telling them where to report when schools reopen next year.

Aware of the social implications and logistical challenges of the redeployment process, the department insists it must be done, and properly, to halt the constant financial drain to the department of hiring temporary teachers while there are excess teachers in the system.

“It’s not a simple thing, as this involves uprooting families and disrupting lives, but it has to be done if we want to change the state of financial affairs in the province,” Mweli said. “We want to halve the expected R2.1-billion over-expenditure – inclusive of the R800-million for the reinstated temporary teachers.”

Schools were asked to submit lists of excess teachers in April, from which the department would identify teachers who needed to be moved to other schools.

But the decision has received mixed feelings from the province’s major unions and education stakeholders, with some opposing the decision while others are concerned with how it would be implemented.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has objected to the decision, saying the previous round of redeployment had left union members “sick and stressed”.

Provincial secretary Fezeka Loliwe said: “In terms of human resources, no teachers need to be moved anywhere. The department should go back to the drawing board because last time it was a serious social tragedy – teachers got sick from stress, some were divorced and some of those who left their homes lost their children in the process.”

Loliwe said the union was unhappy with the distribution model which was “not about curriculum needs but about the pupil-teacher ratio”.

Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie provincial secretary Barbara van der Walt did not oppose the move, but was concerned as to what post establishments the department – which failed to submit this year’s post establishments in time, rendering them illegal – would use.

“It is a necessary step to ease the strain on the provincial budget, but before they can start the process, they need to decide on which post establishments they will use.”

DA education spokesperson Edmund van Vuuren welcomed the decision but felt superintendent-general Modidima Mannya and Sadtu did not have “the political will’ to implement it.

“I think this is going to be a long fight because the majority of needy schools are in the rural areas and teachers in the urban areas are not willing to go rural,” he said.

Van Vuuren said he had made a special recommendation to Mannya to allow teachers 56 and older to retire without being penalised.