THE shortage of teachers at Eastern Cape schools is set to continue despite an earlier announcement by provincial authorities the crisis would be resolved by the end of this week.
Fears are rife thousands of pupils could be left without teachers for the rest of the year, if more than 4 000 temporary teachers, whose contracts were terminated in December, are not returned to the education system.
It is believed since the start of the new school year the teacherto-pupil ratio has escalated, in some instances to 1:100, way above the national average of 1: 35 for secondary or 1: 40 for primary schools.
This comes after a report was leaked to the Daily Dispatch showing the extent of vacant posts and the number of excess teachers, who were expected to move to new jobs across 23 education districts in the province as of January 21.
Department spokesman Malibongwe Mtima would not be drawn into commenting on the report, saying it was a “leaked report” and not “meant for the media”. “I’ve not seen the report. “I cannot comment on a leaked report. Those who leaked it must take responsibility.
“We will communicate with the media at the right time through a briefing, as you know we always do.”
Mtima said discussions to resolve the teacher shortages were continuing.
He said excess teachers had not yet moved to new schools and they were awaiting the outcome of discussions and an audit to determine which subjects were in need of teachers at which schools.
The Dispatch also learnt yesterday that negotiations had deadlocked with the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).
Sadtu provincial deputy secretary Nolitha Mboniswa said the union was not prepared to engage with the department until all 4 425 temporary teachers axed in December were rehired as permanent staff.
“We are not going back to the Labour Relations Chamber [LRC] until all 4 425 are brought back to the system to stabilise it.
“Then we can talk about an agreement and management plan on the movement of excess teachers.
“There has not been a movement of teachers. The department continues with propaganda saying there is a movement but there is none.”
The union met the department senior officials on Monday, but there was no resolution, Mboniswa said.
“We were shocked to learn some officials say we have agreed with the movement of teachers,” Mboniswa said.
Chairman Mzoleli Mrara of the education portfolio committee said he had recommended education MEC Mandla Makupula to go back to the LRC with the unions.
“Because this is a labour related matter the department should go back to the chamber as soon as possible.”
Mrara said there had been a “spontaneous” movement of excess teachers.
“But, this process is not managed and needs to be controlled. The department must reach an agreement with the unions.”
DA shadow MEC for education Edmund van Vuuren said a speedy solution was required.
“They need to move teachers, interdict unions if need be, and withhold salaries of those who refuse to move.”
COPE MPL Angela Woodhall said schools were struggling and teachers should move.
UDM MPL Jackson Bici said it was time for a “real” national intervention to be made in the province.
“This is destroying education.”