KZN’s sick teachers: MEC must explain

Tom Stokes, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

The Democratic Alliance has called for answers from KZN’s Education MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni following media reports of the abuse of sick leave over long periods by educators in the province.

According to one report, a teacher has consistently refused to come to school because she has a “sore throat”.  That her excuse has been accepted by officials for seven years begs the question: is the teacher more at fault or the official that allows this scam to go on indefinitely?

The DA has also requested that MEC Nkonyeni give reasons why, during this extended “sick” leave, the SGB of the school in question has had to pay for a replacement teacher.

It would seem that it is a lot easier for the department to drag its heels on resolving staffing problems when someone else has to bear the cost.  The abuse of sick leave over long periods has also clearly demonstrated the tardiness of education officials in resolving administrative challenges.

There can be no doubt that, in an age where AIDS has devastated the health of many, compassionate treatment of seriously ill employees is essential.   But this does not obviate the need for a rapid decision on extended leave so that schools with missing teachers can get a replacement teacher timeously.

It is obvious that a clear new policy and procedural guidelines must be introduced to deal with these cases of long term absenteeism.