Just six temporary teachers have so far had their contracts renewed by the Eastern Cape Education Department for the entire Port Elizabeth education district.
This is despite the PE district being the province’s largest, with 617 vacant teaching posts. The number of vacancies is made worse by the fact that SADTU is blocking the re-assignment of 239 teachers who are in excess at their current schools.
According to an internal departmental document dated 9 January 2013, PE district had the lowest number of temporary teaching posts (6) approved for the period January to March.
This means that 382 teachers whose contracts expired on 31 December 2012 are in danger of losing their jobs when schools start today.
In a December 9th memo to districts, the department indicated that no further teachers will be appointed until the 239 excess teachers are moved to new posts. This type of approach pushes children into the crossfire between unions and the department and the Democratic Alliance condemns it in the strongest terms.
The DA demands to know whether the department intends to send children back to school to stare at empty classrooms?
Do PE district officials not have the capacity to register teachers’ applications for their contracts to be extended? Or are they simply willing to allow all these educators to be dumped out of the system?
The PE district was where the biggest community protests were held last year about the lack of teachers.
Despite this, smaller education districts will have higher numbers of temporary teachers returning to work, such as Libobe (288) and Uitenhage (214).
If this situation remains, the bubble around the department’s “year of action” in education will not only burst, it will explode.
The DA calls on communities to make their voices heard by reporting all shortages of teachers at their children’s schools to the Education Department.
Sufficient temporary teachers must be appointed and the re-assignment of excess teachers must be dealt with as a separate issue.
Only through sustained pressure will this Education Department realise the importance of our children’s education.