The Eastern Cape Education Department could potentially cut 11 287 teaching posts from the system for the 2013 school year.
This is due to a shortfall of R3.42 billion to fund the 64 752 teaching posts currently budgeted for in 2012.
This information was presented to the legislature’s Education Committee by Superintendent General Mthunywa Ngonzo this week.
Besides Provincial Treasury’s planned 1% cut in budgets for all Departments in 2013/14, the Education Department also faces a R1.6 billion penalty from National Treasury for not implementing Collective Agreement 2 of 2003 between unions and government.
The agreement stated that teachers who are in excess at schools need to be relocated to schools with teacher shortages. This number currently stands at 5343 staff from principal to teacher level.
Unions have recklessly opposed the assigning of teachers to schools that need them most. The Department has failed to transfer teachers to these schools but also to rationalize small, non-viable schools.
The cutting of 11 287 teaching posts in 2013 is likely to force schools into a dog fight about whose teachers should be cut from the system. It is unclear how the Department will fund these severance packages. The future of 4402 temporary teachers currently employed is also bleak if these cuts are made.
We now have a situation where some schools have too many teachers, others have shortages, and the skills to teach core subjects like maths and languages are insufficient in a system that can’t afford to absorb more teachers.
The principle must be that children can’t suffer from this crisis.
For that reason, the DA’s position is that all 64 752 teaching posts budgeted for in 2012 must remain in 2013 and that no teachers must be cut from the system.
The DA wrote to Education MEC Mandla Makhupula yesterday (subs: Thurs, 20 Sept) urging him to negotiate a bailout package from National Treasury to fund this.
The bailout is the only way to ensure that the Department starts on a clean slate for the 2013/14 financial year.
In return, the Department must spread the additional teachers in the system to schools that need them. They must also fast-track the rationalizing of small, non-viable schools.
A key condition of this bailout package must be for the Department to apply strict financial management and develop a turnaround plan to comply with Auditor General recommendations.
If these steps are not taken now, the education crisis in the Eastern Cape will only worsen with the greatest impact being felt by our children.
Edmund van Vuuren, MPL