Many schools in Lusikisiki district are battling to cope with class sizes of between 120 – 140 learners. This is due to the Education Department’s refusal to extend the contracts of temporary teachers.

The Democratic Alliance met with district officials yesterday (subs: Thursday, 17 Jan) during an oversight visit by the legislature.

Officials expressed their desperation at the growing size of classes in rural schools. They are desperately seeking teachers to fill the 807 teacher vacancies in the district.

Class sizes in Lusikisiki are a further sign of the devastating impact of the Education Department’s decision to not extend the contracts of thousands of temporary teachers province-wide. Larger education districts like Port Elizabeth have had as little as six teacher contracts extended.

Just 145 temporary teachers will have their contracts extended in Lusikisiki.

District officials also claim that the Education Department is refusing to release a list of Funza Lushaka teaching bursary graduates.

This is despite guarantees to bursary holders that they would be employed once they have completed their studies. The department currently spends R200 000 per student for a full teaching course.

The DA calls on Premier Noxolo Kiwiet to urgently intervene by compelling the Education Department to release this list of bursary holders to all schools and districts. We can’t have unemployed graduates while there is a teacher shortage crisis in our schools.

The Premier also needs show leadership and compel the Department to immediately extend the contracts of temporary teachers in the right numbers.

A “year of action” in education cannot mean that we send our children back to school to stare at empty blackboards. The department is playing with the futures of our children and this reckless approach must end before any further damage is done.