By Edmund van Vuuren (MPL), Shadow MEC for Education:
Eastern Cape education MEC Mandla Makupula must reconsider his decision to “hold back” 4 000 teacher posts in 2016. This is in addition to the 1 049 posts that have been cut in terms of the post provisioning for 2016, as was announced by the MEC on 30 September.
The DA’s vision for the future is that education in the Eastern Cape must be improved, to enable more young South Africans to take advantage of opportunities. To achieve this, we need a system that is free from teacher shortages and over-crowded classrooms.
Last week, MEC Makupula told members of the portfolio committee on education in the Bhisho legislature that his decision to hold back a further 4 000 posts — to be allocated at the discretion of the MEC only, to certain categories of schools — was based on a principle of “quality teachers, not quantity”. Schools are expected to decide which subjects and teachers must be cut.
The logic behind this decision is questionable, as the learner-enrolment in the province increased from 1, 8 million in 2014 to 1,89 million in 2015. Learner enrolment is expected to increase further in 2016. By reducing the number of posts, it is doubtful that we will have a teacher in every classroom in 2016.
I am very concerned about the effect that this latest decision will have on the morale of our teachers. I can foresee that staff tearooms and principal’s offices will become battle grounds with teachers fighting to retain their jobs. I would recommend that principals write to the MEC to give reasons why their numbers should not be cut.
We were hoping that the increase in the education budget of R1-billion, from R20, 6-billion in 2015/16 to R21, 6-billion in 2016/17 would have allowed for the appointment of more teachers.
If all vacant posts in schools could be filled and teachers are paid on time, this would go a long way in improving education in the Eastern Cape.
The DA urges MEC Makupula to take into consideration the right of every learner to have a teacher in front of the class. Under a DA-government, no learner will be left without a teacher, and that is a guarantee