11 000 Eastern Cape teachers may lose jobs

Johannesburg - More than 11 000 Eastern Cape teachers are in danger of losing their jobs because of a financial shortfall, the Weekend Post reported on Friday.

The newspaper reported that a proposal to fire the teachers next year because of a R3.4bn shortfall was being considered by senior officials of the Eastern Cape education department, including MEC Mandla Makupula.

The department has to finalise next year's post allocation by Friday and opposition parties have urged the department to beg, borrow or make a deal to secure the money.

Education committee members said they had been told by superintendent-general Mthunywa Ngonzo that the department could potentially cut 11 287 (17.4%) of teaching posts from the provincial system for the 2013 school year because of a shortfall of R3.42bn to fund the existing 64 752 teaching posts.

The possibility of firing thousands of teachers was first discussed at a heated meeting in St Francis Bay on 2 September - attended by Makupula and senior education staff - and again at the legislature's education committee meeting this week.

Education experts warned the likelihood of the department sourcing the funding was "minimal at best" and that the axing of teachers would invariably cause an "uproar" among parents.

While opposition parties and department officials said the department was considering the move, Ngonzo denied that it was discussed in Bhisho this week.

"There is no such thing. I never said that [in the Bhisho meeting]. The indication is that pupil numbers are going down and we know for a fact that there will be a budget cut," he said.

Ngonzo did concede that 10 proposals had been put forward regarding next year's teacher basket allocation as a result of budget constraints.

"The two critical driving factors are pupil numbers and budget availability."

He declined to go into detail about the proposals.

According to Democratic Alliance MPL Edmund van Vuuren, at the 2 September meeting in Cape St Francis, the issue of mass retrenchment was discussed at length.

"Senior officials from the department were there, including the MEC. There were a number of proposals put forward but the bottom line is that unless the education department finds the money by next Friday, these teachers could be without work," he said.

Education analyst Graeme Bloch said if the department went ahead with the axing it would spark a storm.

"Parents will be in uproar. It is a crazy, ridiculous and an unviable option."

The department has made little progress in complying with a Eastern Cape High Court order to permanently fill more than 6 000 vacant teacher posts by 2 November, having appointed 4 402 teachers temporarily by 3 September.

This was the second deadline in the latest of a string of court orders against the beleaguered department, the Weekend Post reported.

Greypatriot 2012-09-22 08:08:20 AM
CRAZY - I thought we were fixing education? Why are there less learners - are people migrating to the Western Cape?
Slindokuhle Shamase 2012-09-22 08:12:19 AM
So they decide on firing the teachers instead of other useless municipal workers and mec and mayor's cars?
Gideon Joubert 2012-09-22 08:20:16 AM
So where is the outcry over the ANC effectively closing schools in the Eastern Cape now? Or is such criticism and outrage reserved only for opposition governed provinces?
Deon Meiring 2012-09-22 08:21:40 AM
We need more teachers, and schools that are up to standard! BUT nou the children are gone? Where to?
WakeUpSA 2012-09-22 08:21:47 AM
WCape, brace yourselves for an influx of refugees.
karabos3 2012-09-22 08:22:00 AM
I cannot deal with this unpleasant thing they are trying to do. Education must come first, I hope they expect strikes and all because pupils will have no one to teach them. I hope the budget ain't gonna be cut.
Henk Van Biljon 2012-09-22 08:23:16 AM
Here's an idea. Why don't you just close down the whole schooling system? It is not working anyway, and when you don't have to pay salaries you can just steal any money that's left straight away. You are anyway consumed with plans on how to stuff your pockets on a daily basis. Don't pretend that you want education to work, we don't believe you anymore.
Funwithgoats 2012-09-22 08:30:05 AM
Only stupid people vote ANC. Stay in power keep them that way.
Buti Lembe 2012-09-22 08:33:57 AM
Illiterate govt vs literate teachers.Let's see who'll win the battle.
gerhard.kress.3 2012-09-22 08:35:07 AM
This borders on criminal neglect, gross mismanagement. Why does the ANC not disband?