THE Eastern Cape Department of Education has admitted that indeed there is a shortage of educators in the province.This unacceptable state of affairs which concerns the Department, according to the provincial education spokesperson Mali Mtima, could have been averted, however. “The Department of Education in the province issued a circular on the post provisioning to schools late last year, giving District Directors a blank cheque to appoint on a temporary basis, school principals and post level 1 and 2 teachers, where there was a need,” said Mtima. His department, Mtima said, had an idea of where teacher shortages were. He added that they did not necessarily specify learning areas (subjects), but emphasised the need for school children to be taught.“Emphasis was not necessarily on Maths and Science teachers. The circular did not specify. It said where there was a need, employ a teacher so that school children were taught,” explained Mtima, adding that MEC Mandla Makupula was disappointed that the instruction was not followed by the district directors.Asked where the biggest problem was, Mtima was quick to respond, “The whole province had a problem. All the districts had a shortage of teachers but they inexplicably did not respond to the call.” According to Mtima, the plan was for the schools to continue to do their work until February. A bulletin then would advertise full-time positions from March, and those posts filled by qualifying applicants by April. He said those teachers holding temporal positions would also be considered if they applied for permanent posts. Mtima said his department was aware that some township and rural schools had a problem of overcrowding.“This is not because the Department of Education in the province has not enough schools. The problem is migration,” explained Mtima. “Learners leave schools with poor performance. Parents exercise their right to choose a school that has a potential to take education of their children forward. If your school does not perform, parents don’t argue, they just take their children to a school where there is a high pass rate,” said Mtima.