The current Northern Area schools shut down continues with Governing bodies and school Task Teams of parents determined to force the hand of the East Cape Education Department to focus attention on their demands.
One such school is Despatch Primary in Ooievaar Crescent, Reservoir Hills, Despatch. This dual medium school has been in existence for over 30 years and presently serves around 940 pupils from the surrounding area which includes Kayamandi, Despatch, Bloemendaal and Bethelsdorp. With an academic staff complement of 18 teachers – including a Headmaster and Deputy who have to also teach full time – the quality of education offered is slipping.
Secretary of the Despatch Primary Schools task Team, Janine Jooste says; “We should have a full-time academic staff of 24 teachers – 22 full-time teachers plus the Headmaster and his Deputy but, we currently have four posts vacant – one teacher was redeployed to SAOU (South African Onderwyers Unie) and three teachers are on sick leave. One of those teachers has been on paid sick leave for three years!”
The parents of this No-Fee school recently formed a Task Team to look into the problems being experienced and on 20 January 2016 closed the school to pupils, telling the teachers to go home on 21 January. They have now embarked on a non-violent protest in the hope that they plight will be recognised and fixed. Only then will the school resume it’s new academic year.
All the Despatch Primary School Task Team want is for the full teaching staff complement to return to a head count of 24 academic staff.
Apparently the School Governing Body formally asked the Education Department to attend to the shortages of teaching staff in March 2015. Officials refuse to visit and speak to the school citing either not being able to attend to their concerns or budgetary constraints.
One needs to highlight a simple observation – In industry and even our own homes we cannot afford to have our employees on paid sick leave for three years. Our country has labour laws that address such situations so how can government employees get away with this?
Of course – maybe the Education Department’s ‘budgetary constraints’ would disappear if they attended to the drain imposed upon them by what can only be categorised as an inability to manage their own human resources.
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