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At least 10 Grahamstown schools have been hard hit by the Department of Education’s Post Provisioning Norms (PPN) for 2017.
According to one Grahamstown teacher, while at a big-picture level, the 2017 post-provisioning made sense, on the ground the effects of some of the decisions were detrimental.
The teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said while there were redeployments every year, the latest round of post provisioning had hit smaller schools in Grahamstown particularly badly.
“One of the schools was going door to door in the neighbourhood, trying to persuade people to send their children there to boost their numbers,” the teacher said.
The redeployments had come across as quite harsh, this time around.
“It was different this year. While they tried to accommodate teachers in as humane a way as possible, everyone who was declared in excess was forced to move.
“There was definitely a new mood about who receives promotion posts, and so in some schools, a number of promotion posts that had just been [made] simply fell away.”
This round of rationalisation was emotionally difficult, the teacher said, because teachers themselves were required to declare what posts were in excess.
“At least half of Grahamstown schools had to declare posts in excess, and at least 10 local schools have been particularly hard hit.”
The teacher did not name the schools.
Primary schools were having the worst time, with Grade R posts being cut.
Unions were also challenging decisions about remedial teachers.
There were processes for appealing decisions, and schools could also apply for growth posts, 10 days into the school year, based on greater than expected enrolments.
The Grocott’s Mail team spoke to some Grahamstown principals about how the 2017 Post Provisioning Norms had affected their schools.
Victoria Girls’ High
Principal Warren Schmidt said there was no subject without a teacher in their school.
“I am aware of schools in Grahamstown that lost five or six teachers from the state payroll at the end of last year. We are in a fortunate position where our numbers remained stable.
“Probably you will find that half of the subjects do not have state-paid teachers, because we offer a wide range of subjects.
“We will always have a teacher in the classroom: it is just a matter of determining whether they’re a government-paid teacher or a school governing body paid teacher.”
Schmidt said the biggest challenge for the school was a moratorium on the appointment of replacement staff. He said that this meant whenever a state-paid employee retired or passed away, the school couldn’t immediately fill that post.
He said he was aware that the department was currently making an effort to give schools support staff.
TEM Mrwetyana Secondary
Principal Lindelo Ramokolo said they had advertised a post for a Grade 10 to 12 Physical Science teacher, with a deadline of 30 January. They’d had no teacher in that position up to now; however, a Rhodes University student was filling in on a voluntary basis. The student worked in the school last year as a substitute teacher.
“We also don’t have a permanent Accounting and Economics teachers for Grade 10 to 12.”
Again they have a volunteer in the position, who is also helping out in Economic and Management Science in grades 8 and 9.
He said they’d had no teachers in those subjects, from January to August.
In August, three Rhodes University students began working as substitute teachers. Their contracts expired on 31 December.
Ramokolo said the school welcomed their contribution.
“School programmes are going on as usual, but there are textbooks that have not yet arrived.
For instance, I'm teaching History in Grade 12 and there is not a single textbook. “It’s the same thing in Grade 10 and Grade 11 – there are no textbooks,” Ramokolo said.
“They have not arrived and it’s January now. The textbooks were ordered last year and according to procedure, they are supposed to be delivered before schools closed in December.”
NV Cewu Public Primary
Principal Anele Ndyolashe said they had enough teachers and were only waiting for the department of education to top up textbooks.
Makana Public Primary
Principal Mkholisi Williams said they don’t have enough teachers at the school.
“Teaching staff is a concern because there is a class that is going to be without a class teacher this year.
“I’m also a class teacher, while I also have to perform my duties as a principal,” Williams said.
Samuel Ntlebi Primary
Principal Dumakazi Myemane said things had been going smoothly since schools opened.
“The department promised to give us an Intermediate Senior Phase teacher that we currently need.
“We are ready for this year and we are more than motivated by the fact that we have a new fence for our yard for security reasons,” Myemane said.
Samuel Ntsiko Primary
Principal Nombulelo Koliti said they had received stationery on time and had enough teachers.
Tantyi Lower Primary
Principal Luleka Vabaza said there was no teacher shortage.
Archie Mbolekwa Primary
Principal Zola Mothlabane said they had a shortage of teachers, but the department had promised to provide them with one teacher by 1 February.
The school has 345 pupils and 17 teachers including a music teacher and a computer teacher.
Nine of the teachers are paid by the Department of Education and eight are paid by the school governing body.
“Incremental introduction of African languages (IIAL) teachers have this year been included in the number of teachers allocated to us by the department of education. Previously the Department allocated them to us as extra teachers,” principal Rosaria de la Mare told Grocott’s Mail earlier this year. The Grade R teacher post was one of the casualties of post provisioning.
“However, we have carried on as normal. Fortunately we have SGB posts that we are filling, but they are obviously putting a great strain on our finances.”
Ntsika Senior Secondary
Principal Madeleine Schoeman said that although the appointment process by the Department of Education was far from over, they had received funding from Nedbank Private Wealth to cover Maths and Science teaching.
“The School Governing Body also appointed two English teachers for a month and we depend on funding to fill in the gaps,” said Schoeman.
Principal Joubert Retief said the school had received 11 teachers for 12 Grades.
This covered only Grades R-9 and the Senior Phase and the FET phase was taught by staff employed by the SGB.
“This places a huge financial burden on our parents and we are grateful for their support because it means that their children receive uninterrupted schooling,” he said.
Good Shepherd Primary
As per the final Post Establishment dated 9 January 2017, the number of posts at Good Shepherd School has been cut by two, from 10 in 2016, to 8 in 2017.
“The decline in the post allocation affects the school negatively because the school is a non-fee-paying school and does not have funds to employ extra teachers,” said a staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“The school is in the fortunate position of having the support of the Good Shepherd Trust, which employs three teachers and a teacher assistant to ensure educational excellence and ensure that critical subjects are covered.”
St Mary’s Primary
Principal, Gerard Jacobs said their Post Provisioning Norm (PPN) for 2017 had been reduced from 23 posts in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to a total of 21 posts this year.
“The school has lodged an appeal with the Department of Education regarding the PPN 2017 because the number of learners has increased and the number of classes remains the same, so we hope that those factors will be taken into consideration,” he said.
The department had not responded despite repeated requests for comment.