Johannesburg – The 2022 academic year will get off to a bumpy start for KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga provinces with several teacher posts yet to be filled.
Some of the vacancies are that of promotional posts, substitute educators and those created when a high number of teachers succumbed to Covid-19.
Teacher unions who spoke to Sunday World said they had exhausted all avenues pleading with the department of basic education to listen to their grievances because schools were not coping.
The unions added that some schools were facing closure because pupils had not returned and were opting for those with adequate teacher supply.
“KZN is one of the provinces that was hit hard by the first wave of Covid-19. Many teachers were lost in the system because of death.
The department is dragging its feet to make appointments. We have schools where teachers have to teach subjects that are not even their majors,” said Cynthia Barnes, secretary of the National Teachers Union (Natu).
Barnes painted a picture of despair, saying the high number of teachers who died were those in critical subjects such as Mathematics and Science.
“As it stands, pupils will walk to schools with no teachers in critical subjects. There is a high rate of vacancies in subjects such as mathematics, accounting, and physical science.
Schools have to take the fall for poor performance when the department is failing in its duty to fund teacher posts and make appointments,” she said.
Natu’s sentiments were echoed by Dr Imraan Keeka, the DA’s MPL and member of the education portfolio committee who said the situation was worse, saying the province had 1 217 principals, 1 365 heads of departments including 467 deputy principals’ posts that had yet to be filled.
“The department made a commitment that these vacancies would be advertised and filled, but nothing has materialized,” said Dr Keeka.
Education districts such as Zululand, Harry Gwala, and uMgungundlovu.
Walter Hlaise, Sadtu Mpumalanga provincial secretary said about two hundred temporary teacher positions had not been renewed.
“These were existing positions and were not renewed and the department has not yet communicated as to what will be done to ensure learners have a teacher in class,” said Hlaise.
KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said during the 2021 academic term, the department had a challenge of placing educators because of budget cuts.
“The educators who were appointed on contract basis have been turned into permanent appointments.
“We also advertised 2 600 promotional posts and the entire process will be finalised in the first week of February.
We are confident that this time around, we will not have a massive shortage of educators in our schools,” said Mshengu.
For coastal provinces, teachers return to school tomorrow while pupils are expected back in class on January 19.
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