Dept of Education fails to attend to teacher shortage – SADTU KZN

Union says many schools don't have educators in critical subjects like mathematics, physical sciences and accounting

SADTU media statement on non-filling of educator posts

9 February 2017

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in KZN has noted disturbing transgressions arising out of failure by the Department of Education to quickly attend to educator shortage in schools in the Province.  Reports we have received from our members point that many schools do not have educators including those offering critical subjects like mathematics, physical sciences and accounting nor have grievances lodged by educators related to HRM 51 of 2016 been heard. This state of affairs is birthed mainly by the processes of annual redistribution of educators informed by the Post Provisioning Norms exercise which SADTU has fought against for many years. Over 2800 educators are affected and shall have their family lives disrupted. The employer has not developed requisite capacity to deal with this exercise yearly and the situation deteriorates and collapses in the hands of officials expected to be efficient. These institutional deficiencies are rhetorically camouflaged in promises and announcements made to no benefit to the learner.

This annual exercise which in the main remains prevalent in rural and township schools disrupts schooling into the middle of the first school term thereby compromising quality teaching and learning time for many learners.We have for years participated in this exploitative and anti-worker exercise against our consciences for we have revolutionary duties to create a balance between our members’ rights, interests and those of the learners. Since education is an apex priority of government with educators leading the way in the delivery thereof SADTU equally leads the way in aiding the realization of the nation’s education plans.

It is against this background and our convictions as encapsulated in our 2030 vision and operational theme that in many instances, as agents of change, we are consciously bound to concede some compromises expressly for the benefit of learners and the nation. Such compromises at times may create some apprehensions amongst some of us and may overshadow the very essence of our commitments to our struggles for total emancipation of our education workers.  Notwithstanding these concessions that find expression in our commitments we still place a higher premium on the overall welfare of our members despite prejudices we suffer.  Educators practically carry the burden of staff shortage as they have to contend with overcrowded classes while the employer is frantically redistributing educators endlessly.  Principals of schools bear the brunt of system failure even from the very government officials who are very well aware of deficiencies in the Department of Education.

SADTU has met the employer and unequivocally recorded her displeasure with the overall scheme of events. SADTU called for a special sitting of the ELRC Staffing Committee meeting on the 8th of February 2017 where we raised all the challenges we are observing on the ground, these include issues raised by individual teachers and principals of schools. We have for the benefit of all, called on the employer to develop an expedited process which will remove all obstacles that frustrate seamless placement of educators across the province.  The call we are making is that of implementing the relevant Collective Agreement (4/16) and use the circular to pave the way for the envisaged multi-term agreement which will stabilize schools from 2018 when educators are not subjected to this harsh exercise of movement. Currently the entire exercise precariously rests on a potentially defective implementation base. In our engagements the employer agreed to the following:

Full implementation of Collective Agreement No 4 of 2016

An operative Circular explaining the procedure of redistribution of educators to ease congestion in the system and clear backlogs. 

Educators’ grievances emanating from this process must be heard by the employer as provisioned for in Circular No 51 of 2016 as should contestations from schools regarding their PPN certificates. This will allow the employer to sufficiently draw valid conclusions from submissions made.

The employer should use the tenth day statistics as final determination of the actual enrolment figures for 2017 as this has an impact on educator allocations even on management posts of each school.

To minimise unnecessary movement of educators, schools must declare all educators who are to retire or leave the employ of the Statewithin six month for purposes of retention of other educators as provisioned for in the Circular No 51 of 2016.

The employer must in due course make available a list of posts in schools from which educators must select their preferred places of work for permanent placement in schools in line with the spirit of the effective Collective Agreement.

The employer must prepare a management plan that clearly appreciates bureaucratic protocols that routinely obstruct proper administration of schools.

SADTU calls on all her members to be cautious of movements that may displace them further and to that end advise them to proactively occupy or remain in the posts as deployed to during this process.   SADTU shall continue to explore all possibilities through the Education Labour Relation Council (ELRC) as the legitimate parliament of education workers whose resolutions are binding to all. As the majority party instrumental in real decision making we shall fearlessly express the will of all education workers without being blindly opportunistic.  We further distance ourselves and our members from reckless and unscrupulous calls or actions clothed with patently unjustifiable hopes.  We have in the past found ourselves in the most difficult circumstances but ensured that learners are not unreasonably sacrificed.

Also of importance we invite the public especially parents to support our campaign against PPN.

We also welcome the decisive move by the department to remove the Director of Ilembe. SADTU believes that the move will go a long way in reviving the District as such we also welcome the new Director placed there and wish him well in the new responsibility. We advise him to ensure good relationship with stakeholders and must work hard in uniting workers in the District. The task he has to perform is huge especially developing a programme to improve the performance of the District notoriously lagging behind the rest.

Issued by Nomarashiya Caluza, Provincial Secretary, SADTU KZN, 9 February 2017