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Local schools are still in the dark about the number of teaching staff they will have, or have to lose in the next academic year.
Following a week of heated exchanges between the DA and ANC in the Eastern Cape legislature, MEC for Education Mandla Makupula finally declared the number of teachers for the 2013 academic year to be 60 820 at the end September.
A week after the announcement his department had yet to provide a detailed breakdown of which districts would be affected by potential cuts. Eastern Cape provincial secretary of the South Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) Barbara van der Walt said she hoped the department would provide the actual numbers of teachers per district in the coming week.
“It was vital for the schools to have this information now, so that schools could finalise their financial plans for the coming year - ahead of meetings scheduled to take place between school governing bodies and parents,” Van der Walt said.
In a statement Makupula said the budget for 2013 posts was nearly R18 billion. Based on the figures presented by Acting Superintendent General Mthunywa Ngonzo at the legislature in early September, the money available would not cover the salaries for just over 3 900 teachers.
Makupula said his department had considered its options, which were to either reduce the number of teachers through retrenchment or save jobs and incur the budget shortfall. The MEC said that he had opted to retain teachers but outlined a number of steps that have to be taken to make this possible.
These included the movement of teachers from schools where there was a surplus and resolving instances in which teachers had been absent for a long time due to ill health. In addition, Makupula said he recognised the need to have temporary teachers, especially those who offered scarce skills.
He said he had instructed his department to audit the profiles of temporary teachers with the view to addressing critical skills in the system. At the time of publishing, district director Amos Fetsha said he had not received the breakdown of teacher positions for Cacadu.
He was concerned that there would not be time to plan for different eventualities, such as redeployment or potential retrenchment.