More uncertainty for unpaid PE teachers

2015-07-28 20:23
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan and Education MEC Mandla Makupula. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Danny Jordaan and Education MEC Mandla Makupula. (Ahmed Areff, News24)

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WATCH: Police, journalists pelted with rocks in PE

2015-07-28 12:46

As police vans patrolled a section of Standford Road in the Northern areas of Port Elizabeth, children pelted the vehicles from their homes overlooking the road. Watch. WATCH

Port Elizabeth - Of the 212 teachers in Port Elizabeth's northern areas still waiting to be paid, only 177 will receive their salary by August 8. For the rest, it is more uncertainty and a bigger struggle as there is no indication from the department of basic education when exactly they will get paid.

Education MEC Mandla Makupula acknowledged on Tuesday that there was "a problem in the system" and said the non-payment of teachers was being addressed.

"All teachers who have done their work must be paid."

Violence erupted in the northern areas on Monday after the community took to the streets, mainly to protest against the shortage of teachers at schools. They also raised other issues, such as the non-payment of teachers.

On Tuesday, Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Danny Jordaan said the violence in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth would dwindle in the next few days. 

"It [the violence] has hit its peak and it will peter out. In the next day or two the situation will normalise, not just in the northern areas, but the entire metro," he told reporters at the department of education's district offices in Port Elizabeth. 

"We are dealing with the challenges of the community. What would be the reason for you to stay on the streets?" he asked.

Makupula said there are some criminal elements among the protesters. 

"I heard a journalist was robbed. That was not about education."

Police used rubber bullets, tear gas, stun grenades and a water cannon on Monday to disperse the protesters, who had closed several schools in the area. 

On Tuesday, children in the northern areas continued to barricade roads with burning branches, rubbish and boulders. They also pelted police Nyalas [vehicles] as they made their way past the children's homes. 

Police fired rubber bullets to disperse them. 

Working to address teacher shortage

Makupula said on Tuesday that the department was working to address the shortage of teachers. 

"This year Port Elizabeth has been in the news due to a shortage of educators due to natural attrition and resignations, including promotions," he said. 

"We had initially given this district 173 posts to address this and 124 were filled. In addition, in May this year we gave the district 122 posts to fill all other vacant posts, following an audit on the shortage of teachers."

He said the shortages were for Afrikaans-speaking teachers in maths, science and the foundation phase. 

"In most of the schools in the northern areas the language of instruction is Afrikaans," he said. 

"Out of 122 posts, only 55 were appointed by last week and schools are still submitting. Numbers might have changed as I am sitting here."

'It's about getting the relevant warm bodies'

He said the national education department was also providing teachers to fill the posts. 

"It is not that the department is refusing to appoint teachers - it is about getting the relevant warm bodies," Makupula said. 

Of the positions already filled, 30 were Afrikaans-speaking foundation phase teachers and 15 Afrikaans-speaking maths and physical science teachers. 

Makupula said it was possible that principals were also involved in the closures of their schools during the protest.

"They deserve to be charged. Any government employee found doing such things will face the wrath of the law."

He and Jordaan would meet principals from the affected schools on Tuesday afternoon, he said. 

"I want to appeal to the communities... to work with me to ensure that this does not happen again. I want to categorically state that no one has the right to close schools, no matter what," Makapula said. 

The Northern Areas Education Forum was expected to meet residents later on Tuesday to determine the next course of action in the protest.

Read more on:    danny jordaan  |  mandla makupula  |  port elizabeth  |  education  |  protests

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