Missing teachers still a big problem as school year gets going

2014-01-17 00:00

TEACHERS did not show up at their schools because they were busy registering their own children at other schools, or because they deem their own schools unsafe.

These are some of the issues that surfaced yesterday during a report-back session to principals, teachers and unions by KwaZulu-Natal Deputy Speaker in the Legislature, Mtholephi Mthimkhulu about what she had found on a visit to seven schools in the Umlazi district.

The paedagogues yesterday packed out the Durban City Hall to have their say in the school functionality monitoring programme.

Principal Mamotsau Thipe from Wiggins High School in Mayville was worried that another year would end before she gets a maths teacher at her school. Thipe told her educational colleagues she had submitted an application last year, “but I still haven’t received a teacher”. In 2011, she had neither a maths nor a science teacher, and didn’t want a repetition this year.

She also complained that schools were “highly unionised” and “learners are left unattended” because the unionised teachers would be in school, but would not teach. Thipe said some teachers did not report to school on the first day because they had to go register their own children at schools.

Another issue raised was storm damage to the school that was never repaired. She said their school building has become hazardous as result.

At Chesterville Extension Secondary High School, 12 of the 32 teachers did not arrive for class on the first day of school because “parents kicked them out of the school last year”.

Other schools complained about vandalism, lack of support staff and overcrowded classrooms.

Mthimkhulu told the assembled teachers that schools were facing social ills such as drugs and teenage pregnancy. She said 16 matrics from Mayville Secondary School fell pregnant last year. “In one school we discovered that it was fashionable for children to smoke dagga,” said a dismayed Mthimkhulu.

At some schools the electricity cables were stripped and taps stolen.

Mthimkhulu acknowledged that some schools lacked resources, but told the assembled teachers the secret to success was teamwork and not how much their schools had.

Umlazi District director Bheki Ntuli said he was pleased that most teachers reported for class. He emphasised the dire need for teachers in critical subjects such as maths and science.

Anthony Pierce of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa), said he was worried about the department’s lack of money, as it is now even more in debt.

Pierce said he had met a school representative in the Pinetown District yesterday who had not had a maths teacher for the past four years. He said there were also substitute teachers who had not been paid last year.

In a circular issued last November, the department froze all new appointments of substitute and temporary teachers from December 1, 2013.

Pierce thinks that the provincial department should be taken under administration by the the Department of Basic Education.

DA KZN spokesperson on Education, Tom Stokes, said there was still lack of furniture at schools and no plan of action.

He said first day of school there were pupils sitting on the floor at schools in the Greytown and Richmond area.

“The major problem is not the delivery of textbooks or stationery, but the staff shortages and all that arises from the school management that is not getting up to speed,” Stokes added.

Poverty, child-headed homes and lack of support are still some of the challenges facing the department, Stokes said.

He added there was a school where there was not a single pass from grades one to five.

He said he had requested that the MEC for Finance Ina Cronjé, a former education MEC, intervene.

The department was not available for comment.

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