Ghost teachers persist

2016-03-18 11:00
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Finance portfolio committee members in the provincial legislature, “are sick and tired” of the prolonged head count by the provincial Department of Education aimed at netting ghost teachers.

A firm committee chairperson Sipho “KK” Nkosi went as far as pushing the department into provide a “final timeline as to when this thing is coming to an end”.

“We cannot talk about the same thing from 2014. Now it is the third financial year and you cannot conclude it,” he said.

Nkosi said the process had been complicated by “power relations between the department and provincial treasury”.

“This thing of yours where you say there are ghosts, and you say there are no ghosts, we are sick and tired of it,” he said.

Nkosi said the department should have taken an easy approach to the issue of the head count by going to the schools unannounced and demanding attendance registers to see who had signed and who had not.

His stance was echoed by NFP MPL Vikizitha Mlotshwa, who said oversight committees had found some irregularities when they went unannounced to schools, and demanded attendance registers.

In conjunction with the provincial treasury, the department started a teacher head count in 2010.

Last month the department froze salaries of 4 334 teachers who were nowhere to be found in the head count.

However, out of those 4 334, only about 150 have not verified their details.

The department’s senior general manager for Corporate Management Services, advocate Bheki Masuku, said it had been established that 1 650 of those employees were actually seasonal employees like markers and examiners.

More than 1 460 others had already came forward to verify their details and some salaries had been reinstated already.

Those employees had either been on suspension or on sick leave when the head count was conducted, Masuku said.

Masuku’s explanation did not hold water with the committee members.

Committee member Maggie Govender, said principals should have been able to account for those who were sick or on special leave.

“Of these employees who did not come, we are told that some of them were suspended and that some of them were sick in hospital etc.

“Surely the school principals should have been able to provide that report; they should not have been unexplained,” she said.

DA MPL Francois Rodgers said, “Six years down the line, the results we are getting are not good enough and need to be addressed urgently”.

In a statement later Rodgers said the party will call on KZN’s ANC leadership to “intervene within the province’s failed Department of Education (DoE) following a disastrous departmental budget hearing [yesterday].”

He said the meeting showed that the DoE is “unravelling at the expense of learners in the province – a move being fuelled by divisions within the ANC and its alliance partner Sadtu”.

He said departmental officials admitted that the headcount had taken too long.

“They admitted to challenges with teacher/pupil ratios. They also admitted challenges around teacher efficiency in the province, practically acknowledging that the department knows it true staff complement and that 99% of teaching staff have been confirmed.

“This contradicts Treasury’s conditional findings which indicate that 600 teachers on the DoE’s payroll remain unaccounted for.

“In so doing, the DoE has admitted it has lost the battle with Sadtu in this province with the teacher union calling the shots when it comes to effective staffing and the department having no political will to change this.”

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

FINANCE portfolio committee members raised concerns yesterday over the massive chunk of the Department of Education’s budget which goes to the compensation of employees.

In the 2015/16 financial year, 92% went to the compensation of workers and only eight percent was left to fund goods and services.

The Department was put under pressure because of the implications of the underfunded 2015 wage agreement.

Committee member Sibusiso Gcabashe said it seemed the department was walking while trying to chase a speeding car.

Gugu Simelane-Zulu queried whether it could get to a situation where the entire budget of the department is spent on the compensation of employees, leaving no allocation for service delivery.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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