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KwaZulu-Natal - In an effort to cope with the growth of their schools and to keep classes small, some KwaZulu-Natal public schools have employed nearly three times more parent-paid teachers than they did 15 years ago.
According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, since 1997 the number of KZN teachers whose salaries came from the school governing body budget rather than the state’s coffers had increased from 1 653 to 4 217.
The institute’s recently released 2012 SA Survey further revealed that, since 1997, across South Africa, this figure had quadrupled from 5 943 to 24 174.
The province’s top public schools had consistently attributed the annual hike in their fees to the expense of employing extra teachers.
While these teachers may not belong to the government pension fund, and only some of the schools had made provision for medical aid, schools tried to offer them salaries in line with what their state-paid counterparts have been receiving.
Of the 6 017 public schools in KZN, 80 percent were non-fee charging, and would therefore have little to no money to spend on supplementing their state-paid workforce.
Statistics in the Department of Basic Education’s School Realities 2012 report showed that there were 31 pupils for every teacher in KZN, when counting both those who were state-paid and parent-paid.
The ratio was 33 pupils for every teacher when school governing body staff were removed from the equation.
Gavin Kelian, KZN head of the Governing Body Foundation, an association of 700 school governing bodies in the country, said that, on average, 50 percent of a school’s budget went towards paying extra teachers.
However, the figure was “dramatically” less in small schools, he said.
Kelian said schools tried not to increase the number of parent-paid teachers on their staff, to protect parents’ pockets.
“By and large, it’s to keep class sizes low. It’s very difficult to teach a class of 40 or 45.”
At Westville High, the state paid 44 of the school’s 79 teachers last year. The sports coaches, 15 office staff and 30 field maintenance and cleaning workers were all paid for by the parents.
At Glenwood High, of the 140 staff, including teachers and cleaners, 60 were paid by the state.
The institute’s survey also showed that KZN had the highest teacher vacancy rate (12 220) of all nine provinces in 2011 – some of which were filled by temporary teachers.
Of the teaching appointments made in 2011, 11 439 were temporary.
The province also had the largest education system in the country.
Nationally, the vacancy rate stood at 42 623, and the temporary teacher appointments at 37 525. - The Mercury