Teachers in KZN turn to Zikalala for help

Members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) supported by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) picketed at the doorstep of the KZN legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday. Photos by Nokulunga Majola

Sadtu says there is a shortage of more than 2,000 teachers in KwaZulu-Natal.

Members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) picketed outside the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday. They are demanding that the education department sort out the non-payment of teachers and fill vacant teacher posts. The union said they want answers with regards to the termination of substitute teachers and the non-recognition of Grade R practitioners’ qualifications.

According to the teachers’ union, there is a shortage of more than 2,000 teachers in the province and more than 1,203 substitute teachers have either not been paid or told not to come back to school.

Recently, Sadtu KZN called a bilateral meeting with the KZN Department of Education to discuss issues facing schools in the province. Sadtu provincial secretary, Nomarashiya Caluza said they decided to seek help from the KZN premier, Sihle Zikalala, because their pleas were being ignored by MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu, who blamed all the challenges faced by teachers in the province on budget cuts.

“The reality is that learners have not been taught in many schools as there are subjects that have not been taught since the beginning of the year. There are many schools which don’t have teachers and even the teachers who were appointed have not been paid. And there are still more than 2,000 vacancies in the department, especially in our schools, which means since the reopening of schools there has been no effective teaching,” Caluza said.

Sadtu held pickets outside all district offices and circuits throughout the province. The picket at the legislature was attended by over 100 teachers and Cosatu members. A memorandum of their demands was handed over to premier Zikalala who was accompanied by the MEC for Education.

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KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala signing the memorandum handed to him by the union.

MEC Mshengu said the memorandum reinforced a call that his department had made regarding the cutting of their budget by a staggering R6.3-billion. And said they needed more funding to stabilise KZN’s education sector.

“We also need the funding to usher in quality education. The cut has affected the budget particularly for educators and we have schools that are not sufficiently staffed. The department was unable to replace teachers who were on leave with substitute teachers and this impacted on teaching. We are happy that the premier came out to receive the memorandum and committed that the government will urgently look into the matters so we can achieve stability in this sector,” Mshengu  said.

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