Members of the multiparty Portfolio Committee of Education again, as per our mandate, visited numerous schools in this vast rural province.
This exercise has been undertaken on an annual basis for many years without House Resolutions fully implemented by the Department of Education.
Our visits revealed multitudes of schools within all districts where learners have to stand when taught or sit on tins and crates, while the department has allocated substantially less funds for the procurement of furniture than in the previous years.
The department should refrain from providing the committee with information that is not factually correct, with reference to furniture supplies to schools. It reported to us in a meeting on 15 January 2013, prior to our school visits, that there were no schools without furniture. This type of statement has surely compromised the integrity of the department. The undesirable position of the department is no surprise in respect of shortages of teachers, overcrowded classrooms and high rate of absenteeism and abuse of the leave system by teachers and the overarching influence of unions. This is forcing parents in the Eastern Cape to move their children, at great costs and personal and financial sacrifice, to the Western Cape for quality education.
The department is infected with officials serving two masters, namely their union and to a lesser extent their employer.. This is one of the reasons why decisions pertaining to redeployment have not been implemented.
There has been a lack political leadership in redeploying excess teachers to schools where they are needed for the last ten years. We were informed during school visits of teachers being intimidated by union members at the slightest notion that they were considering redeployment. Even school principals have been prevented from following processes.
We cannot stumble from one crisis to another. This department is in full comprehension of the challenges facing them regarding post provisioning, yet it is either unwilling or does not have the guts to stand up to its social partners to have post provisioning issues resolved.
In the Eastern Cape we have more than 8 300 substantive vacant posts with +-6 800 teachers in excess. Up to date only 1 900 teachers have been identified and only 500 teachers have accepted their re-assignment.
The lack of teachers at our schools has resulted in our schools been destabilised, classes are overcrowded, multi grade teaching has become the order of the day and parents have become disillusioned with the educational system. Many schools have illegally closed, with the hope that solutions will be found. Solutions are not forthcoming.
The Democratic Alliance proposes the following:
- Instruct all Principals and District Offices to complete the process of identification of excess teachers within the next two weeks;
- If teachers have been identified to be redeployed, instruct those principals not to allocate any tasks to them as they are not supposed to deliver services at these schools; and
- Have these teachers matched against the profiles of all available posts and instruct them, on the basis of fairness, to report to their new stations within an acceptable time frame, if not, pending consequences should be communicated to them.
Should these teachers fail to adhere to these instructions than the Department must enforce the no work, no pay, and withhold salaries until such time they report for duty at their new schools.
If these teachers still refuse to be re-assigned they should be offered a severance package which can be negotiated with National.
If this fails, legal actions should be instituted with dismissal as the final option.
Those teachers that are in the age cohort of 50 to 60 and who are not redeployable because of their qualifications should be offered early retirement without any penalties. This will open the door for the large numbers of Funsha Lushaka Bursary holders to be permanently employed
I am appealing to the Hon MEC for Education to intervene where schools have been closed illegally. I am aware that Willowmore Primary was closed illegally this morning because of teacher shortages. I am also appealing on behalf of communities to find speedy solutions for the teacher shortages.
We applaud the department for transporting learners to schools in order for them to have access to education. However, there are too many of our deserving learners who still have to walk more than 10km to schools. This has resulted in many learners dropping out of school; opportunities are not created for these learners to achieve their goals. St Albans Primary School in Port Elizabeth has suffered in that only 124 of their more than 300 farm children have been transported. This is totally unacceptable.
The non-payment of temporary teachers was a debilitating effect on the morals of your dedicated and committed educator. Please, Hon MEC, get your house in order and stop blaming other stakeholders for your department’s failures, namely non-payment and non-provision of teachers.