Cape Town -
In “thrilling” news for teachers, class sizes will be smaller than they have been in a decade, with an additional 676 teaching posts in Western Cape schools next year.
Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer announced the basket of posts for 2015 on Sunday
Teachers’ unions have welcomed the increased number of posts but the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said thousands of additional posts were necessary to make a real dent in class sizes.
The increase would bring the total number of teaching posts to 32 033.
Posts would be allocated to schools at an upcoming meeting with unions and Western Cape Education Department (WCED) head Penny Vinjevold.
Schäfer said the increased basket had been determined after much consultation, calculation and forecasting.
“I am delighted to announce that we will be able to increase in a sustainable manner the number of new educator posts to 32 033 in 2015 – a further increase of 676 posts as compared to the adjusted allocation this year.
“The projected teacher to learner ratio is expected to be 34:1 based on projected learner numbers for 2015. This is the lowest it has been in the past 10 years which is an exceptional achievement given the financial climate and the level of inward migration.”
The department usually worked to norms of 35:1 in primary schools and 36:1 in high schools.
Former Education MEC Donald Grant had announced a few months ago that the number of teaching posts would increase by 226 posts during the course of the year.
“Therefore, at the start of the 2015 school year, there will be 902 more educators than in January 2014,” Schäfer said.
“The WCED, in consultation with educator unions and school governing body associations, will now determine where each of the additional posts will be allocated.
“I look forward to a favourable outcome, also taking into account our three strategic goals of improved language and mathematics results at schools, the improvement in the number and quality of passes in the national senior certificate and the reduction in the number of underperforming schools.”
She said these factors had been taken into account to determine the posts:
* The WCED budget.
* The increase in pupil numbers.
* Projected growth in pupil numbers.
* Curriculum needs of schools.
* Protection of non-negotiable priorities including infrastructure and maintenance.
* Cost of living and inflation.
* Pro-poor relief measures.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa provincial chairman David Millar said: “It’s thrilling news for schools. The more posts you have in the system, the better the system.”
He said posts would be allocated by prioritising the foundation phase and poorer schools.
Jonavon Rustin, Sadtu provincial secretary, said: “We welcome the creation of 676 new posts. But because we have such a backlog of posts this does not make a dent in reducing class sizes which would improve the quality of education.”
He said 2 000 to 3 000 new posts should be added each year to make a real impact on class sizes. This would ensure no class had more than 28 pupils, he said.
Schäfer said the additional posts were “a testimony to how good management and planning can be applied to ensure we achieve our objective of providing quality education”.