Education crisis denied

2015-05-06 06:00

THE Free State Department of Education downplays the resignation by teachers in high numbers as a serious crisis. More than 2 000 teachers in the Free State are reported to have quit the profession in the last three years.

According to the department, the number of teachers who resigned in the period in question were as follows: 380 teachers resigned in 2012, 475 in 2013 and 845 in 2014.

Howard Ndaba, spokesperson of the department, said 290 teachers had resigned between January and March this year.

“There is no crisis and there are no classes without teachers,” says Ndaba, adding that there was no shortage of teachers.

“There is an influx of teachers who are seeking employment with the department.”

Ndaba said the mass resignation of teachers continued unabated despite assurances that the proposed pension reforms would not affect pension pay-outs.

It emerged that most teachers quit following widespread speculation that, if they did not take their pensions by March, they would be cut. However, Ndaba indicated that reasons for resignations varied from seeking transfers to other provinces, to long-term illnesses.

Mariette Pittaway, DA member in the Free State Legislature, has questioned whether MEC for Education, Pule “Tate” Makgoe, can deliver quality education in the wake of spate of resignations transpiring in his department.

“The exodus of teachers, coupled with a high school dropout rate of 61% resulting in an actual matric pass rate of 39% in 2014, and the poor performance of learners seen in the Annual National Assessment (ANA) results, indicate a serious problem within the department,” Pittaway said.

She has further raised concern about the R1,3 billion shortfalls resulting in the late payment of teacher salaries.

Pittaway attributes the shortfall to a delay in permanent teacher appointments and the late payment of school subsidies as other factors to teachers’ resignation.

“The department is failing our children, and through compromising on the quality of education in the Free State, is denying them the future they deserve, a future of opportunity and employment,” Pittaway said.

Ndaba, however, indicated that the department had filled more than 90% of the vacant positions.

“The department has invested in bursaries, so we do not have a shortage of teachers,” Ndaba said

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