I feel compelled to write to you, Madam Premier, because it has become very clear that the closure of schools by parents due to teacher shortages is a trend that is spreading throughout the province like wildfire.
The situation is clearly beyond the control of the Eastern Cape Department of Education, which has so far done little to address the issue of excess teachers who refuse to move to schools where they are needed.
Schools where fed-up parents are forcing closures is no longer confined to the northern areas of Port Elizabeth. The Willowmore Primary School has been closed for the past two week. Asherville Primary, Spandau Secondary and Union Primary- and High School were forced to close recently. On Monday (subs: 4 March 2013) my DA-colleague in parliament, Donald Smiles, and I witnessed school children sitting around without supervision or wandering the streets aimlessly in Ugie and in Barkley East.
There has been a lack political leadership for the last ten years to have excess teachers redeployed to schools where they are needed. We are all guilty of robbing our children of a future by not taking action in this ongoing matter.
We have more than 8300 substantive vacant posts with 6 800 teachers in excess. To date only 1 900 teachers have been identified and only 500 teachers have accepted their re-assignment.
Teachers are being intimidated by Sadtu at the slightest notion that they were considering redeployment. The department is fully aware of the challenges regarding post provisioning, yet it does not have the guts to stand.
The lack of teachers has resulted in overcrowding and multi -grade teaching. The DA cannot condone the practise of parents closing schools but one can understand their frustration because there are no solutions coming from the government.
I urge the Premier to step in and act:
1. Instruct all Principals and District Offices to complete the process of identification of excess teachers within the next two weeks;
2. Have 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. This includes no work, no pay, withholding salaries and severance package which can be negotiated with National; and
3. 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.
The Eastern Cape again fared the worst in last year’s matric results. Madam Premier, if you do not act to and stop the teacher shortage and the general chaos in the education system in the province, we will have no candidates to send to matric. You are forcing children into an unending cycle of poverty and disadvantage.
Edmund van Vuuren, MPL
DA spokesperson on Education