Teachers working only two hours a day

The education of thousands of Mpumalanga schoolchildren has ground to a near halt and exams have been postponed because of a teachers’ go-slow.
Most of South Africa’s children are not doing well in mathematics and science. Image by: iStock
For the past three weeks, teachers in the province have been coming to work for only two hours a day. Schools open at 8am and close at 10am.

The protest is over the freezing of teaching posts.

A meeting on Friday between representatives of labour federation Cosatu and Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza failed to find a solution.

More than 24000 members of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union have said they will not return to full-time teaching until the education department’s moratorium on filling posts is lifted.

The union says the moratorium subjects its members to extreme stress and detracts from the quality of teaching.

The go-slow has come at a huge cost for this year’s matrics, who have missed exams because of it.

Gugu Mahlangu, a Grade 12 pupil at Sovetjheza Secondary School in Machiding, said the protests began as the quarterly exams were about to start.

“I have five more subjects to write. It is demoralising. These exams are important to test our readiness for the final exams in three months’ time.

“I have to use these results to apply for a place at university. What is going to happen?”

Mpumalanga government spokesman Zibonele Mncwango said that previously more than 60% of the province’s budget went to salaries. But in March 2015 the province resolved that this should be reduced to 58% so more could be spent on service delivery.

Mncwango said as a result of this reallocation of funds a moratorium on filling teaching posts was partially implemented by the education department.

“The department will continue to prioritise [filling] vacant positions at schools.”

He said a list of vacant posts was being compiled and decisions would be taken on how many will be filled and in which financial year.

“The information will be presented to organised labour today.”

SIPHO MABENA – Tiso Black Star Group

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