Eastern Cape education crisis

Edmund van Vuuren MPL

Shadow MEC for Education

The lengthy process of taking disciplinary action against excess teachers in the Eastern Cape who refuse to be transferred will not solve the education problems in the province.

The DA welcomes the Eastern Cape Department of Education’s announcement that it will take action against teachers who are refusing to be transferred from their current schools where they are in excess.

The Department announced that it had instructed its labour section to start disciplinary procedures against such educators. This time-consuming approach will not work however. In the meantime our children will continue to suffer poor education because of cramped up conditions and insufficient teaching time for critical subjects.

I maintain my position that the department should stop the pay cheques of teachers who refuse to be transferred to schools with staff shortages. As at the end of January 2013 there were 7 152 teachers from principal to teacher level who were in excess at their current schools and who needed to be transferred.

Pupils in the poorest schools in the Eastern Cape are suffering with very few teachers because Sadtu continues to oppose the transfer of teachers.

The DA proposes that:

* Teachers must be identified for transfer to vacant posts based on suitability and fairness and if this is refused by Sadtu, the salaries of these teachers should be stopped until they move to the post required;

* A cut-off deadline for teachers who refuse transfer must be established and severance packages negotiated so that unemployed graduates can replace them in the system; and

* The subtle racism of Principals who fiddle post requirements to exclude teachers who don’t fit a certain language profile must be acted against.

Schools simply cannot work unless there is a quality teacher in every classroom.

For 10 years, the Education Department has failed to face down to Sadtu to ensure that teachers are transferred to where they are needed most as per Collective Agreement 2 of 2003. This culminated in pupils being caught in the crossfire of a two month-long illegal strike by Sadtu in 2012, which the Department failed to act against.

Teachers in the Eastern Cape teach for just 3.5 hours a day. Classrooms also have the highest absenteeism rate for teachers in the country resulting in 80% of schools being dysfunctional. What we need is accountability.

The DA welcomes the Department’s apparent decision not to seek additional funding from the Treasury to appoint more teachers instead of redeploying current excess teachers. Such a step would have been unwise, because the department would simply not sort out its staffing issues.

Our children deserve nothing less than the opportunity to receive a quality education no matter which school they attend in the Eastern Cape.

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