By Edmund van Vuuren (MPL), Shadow MEC for Education:
Eastern Cape education MEC Mandla Makupula continues to pay lip service instead of acting to bring an end to school closures by parents in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas. Had the MEC considered my proposals, which I have made repeatedly in letters, legislature speeches and statements in the media, we would have avoided this situation entirely. The MEC is playing politics with the shortage of teachers in the northern areas and has not taken this matter seriously.
The pathway to real freedom is having access to decent education. This right is being trampled on in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth by the MEC for Education by refusing to act.
We are aware that the MEC has availed 1 665 posts to all 23 districts within the province. Unfortunately, we do not know how many posts have been allocated to the Port Elizabeth district and how many of those posts have been earmarked for school in the northern areas. We are all aware that posts have been drastically cut in schools across the province and more particularly the northern areas.
This department must create opportunities. It is only fair that our schools in the northern areas should be allocated enough teachers so that there is a teacher in each and every available classroom. Our children are not being afforded the freedom to have access to quality education because of the absence of educators in the classrooms.
I once again table my proposals to MEC Makupula for solutions to the teacher crisis in the northern areas:
- Rehire retired educators and those who have resigned, who are willing to deliver a service and who have the appropriate qualifications, for a fixed period for the vacant post profiles in the northern areas.
- The department must compile a comprehensive list of all substantive vacant posts within the northern areas and advertise these posts as wide as possible. They should target the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Free State where there may be an abundance of qualified teachers not currently in posts within those provinces.
- Consider also, for a closed period, the transfer of teachers from schools within the country as well as within the province who have close ties with PE and would like to relocate to the city and, in particular, the northern areas.
- Request Afrikaans-speaking teachers who are teaching subjects other than Afrikaans in Xhosa/English medium schools to volunteer to be transferred to schools within the northern areas.
There are not enough qualified Funza Lushaka bursary holders in PE to fill the vacuum. It is of paramount importance that these and all other proposals are considered and implemented without delay to bring stability to the schools in the northern areas.
Education remains the foundation for opportunities