Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal education portfolio committee will this week write to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, summoning him to attend a meeting so that he can spell out plans to deal with the under-supply of teachers.
The committee passed the resolution to call Nzimande during their meeting last Friday.
With more than 4 000 teachers either resigning or dying in the province every year, the committee said not enough was being done nationwide to address the shortage.
The DA’s spokesman on education, Tom Stokes, said the latest figures indicated that only 1 890 teachers were recruited this year.
“The number of recruits is not matching up with the number of teachers that we either see leaving the department in droves or dying,” he said.
The province has about 90 000 teachers, of whom 14 800 are either unqualified or under-qualified.
According to the latest figures tabled during the committee meeting, 7 550 of the teachers have only a matric certificate as their qualification.
“If these figures don’t raise the alarm with the minister, then I don’t know what will. The situation of teacher under-supply is very dire in the province,” said Stokes.
He said the gap between new teachers and those leaving the profession was widening.
This, he said, was especially the case in scarce subjects such as maths and science.
“The government’s answer to the present shortage has been to employ temporary and unqualified teachers. But this cannot continue. There will come a point where there will simply be thousands of classes without teachers,” he warned.
While he commended Education MEC Senzo Mchunu for trying to increase teacher input, Stokes said the onus now lay with Nzimande.
“Answers must be provided for the severe dislocation between the supply entity – in this case the Higher Education Department – and the demand entity, the Basic Education Department, in terms of both quantity and quality.
“It is essential that the minister appear before this province’s education portfolio committee and account directly for the lack of observable changes in response to the demand for teacher training,” he said.
Meanwhile, a parliamentary reply by Mchunu to a DA question has revealed that many schools in KZN continue to battle with overcrowding.
It revealed that 42 schools in the province have more than 90 pupils in a class, while 254 schools have an average class size of more than 60 pupils.
At 934 schools, the average class size is 55 and above, while in 680 schools the figure stands at 40.
These figures, the DA said, revealed that “a staggering 670 000 learners are being taught in classes of more than 55 pupils”.
The DA warned the situation had to be addressed swiftly.
“Quite clearly we are sitting on a powder keg and the fuse has been lit. We simply don’t have another 18 years of silent acceptance from a passive electorate,” said Stokes.