The MEC for Education’s recent pronouncements on the 2014 school staff establishment whereby 5 024 posts will be cut will have an adverse effect in classrooms and on the general morale of teachers.
Instead of cutting teacher numbers, the DA believes that the Department of Education needs to revisit its organogram and downsize its bloated administration at its head office in Zwelitsha and its 23 district offices. According to the Persal system the department employed at total of 80 848 people as at 30 September 2013, of which 59 489 were educators in schools. Excess administrative staff should be redeployed horizontally in other government departments.
The DA demands that MEC Mandla Makupula provides all schools with their individual staff establishments before the end of October 2013. Schools must be given the opportunity to plan ahead in terms of whether their teacher-numbers will increase or decrease.
Where teacher numbers have decreased, schools will have the unfortunate task of identifying people who are in excess as outlined in a collective agreement. Schools will also need to revisit their subject allocations and class groupings in order to accommodate their smaller post basket.
Schools must be allowed to appeal if requests to retain current numbers of teaching teachers are refused for unacceptable reasons.
The downside to this drastic cut in teacher numbers will result in the 2014 academic year being no different from previous years: we will continue witnessing overcrowded classrooms, certain subjects no longer being taught, disruptions, safety issues and illegal school closures.
The state of education in the province is not improving. Instead of fixing the problem, the MEC seems to be fuelling the fire.
He needs to explain three burning questions:
1. He indicated that no teachers would be retrenched in terms of the 5 024 fewer posts. There are currently more that 4 000 excess teachers in the system. How then does he foresee reassigning more than 9 000 excess teachers to schools where they match the post profiles when his department has had little success in redeploying educators thus far?
2. How is he going to go about offering teachers early retirement and ill health retirement when his department has refused these applications in the past? Will his department support double parking and hold on to excess teachers, even if their services are not needed at the schools where they are teaching?
3. When will the numerous substantive vacant posts be filled? Are we going down the same path as schools in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth and in other disadvantaged communities where parents have illegally closed schools because of the inability of his department to adequately staff schools?
I will be asking questions for written reply to the MEC in relation to how many teachers have been approached for early retirement, ill health retirement and what the numbers are for schools that still have substantive vacant posts.
We cannot sit by and watch how our children are being robbed of a quality education. The issue around excess teachers, vacant posts and matching excess teachers to substantive vacant post profiles must be sorted out once and for all.