Grade R teachers angry over job security, ‘neglect’

KZN Department of Education MEC Mbali Frazer. Picture: KZN Department of Education

KZN Department of Education MEC Mbali Frazer. Picture: KZN Department of Education

Published Nov 11, 2022


Durban — Grade R teachers are concerned about what they call “neglect” of their employee rights by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education.

Teachers had mixed reactions to the statement made by MEC Mbali Frazer that her department was considering employing around 500 Grade R teachers on a permanent basis.

Early childhood development representative NP Khumalo said there was a “burning issue” surrounding Grade R educators’ plight. Khumalo was also seeking clarity on the employment process. Khumalo said Grade R teachers had various qualifications from level 4 and 5 diplomas to degrees.

“We asked the department which qualification will be considered when employing us on a permanent basis. Will they absorb those who are qualified and are already in the system, or will the process involve the new applicants altogether?”

Khumalo was concerned about colleagues who, after having served the department for more than 20 years, would retire with no remuneration if the employment process was delayed any further.

She was also concerned about the fate of those still studying.

Khumalo said the teachers they were also worried about the department’s alleged practice of sometimes employing Grade R teachers on a voluntary basis with a promise that they will be given first priority when a post becomes available. Instead, she claimed, someone else is hired.

Khumalo recommended that qualified teachers must be absorbed to their current positions on a full-time, permanent basis, must earn according to their qualification and be given all benefits received by their permanent teaching counterparts.

Also, teachers still studying should be granted a chance to finish their studies and also receive financial assistance while doing so.

In addition, the Education Department must compensate those Grade R teachers who will be retiring soon after having served the department for years.

The National Teachers Union president, Sibusiso Malinga, said Grade R teachers had been neglected for a long time. Malinga said the union was aware of the teachers’ plight.

“With these new developments, the union will be able to have fruitful discussions with the Education Department when dealing with the Grade R educators. They should receive all benefits, including medical aid, pension and provident fund benefits,” Malinga said.

DA spokesperson on Education MPL Dr Imran Keeka said funds originally used for Covid-19 screening would be used to hire 500 qualified Grade R teachers effective from the beginning of next year.

Keeka said: “The DA has long advocated this move. With the end of the pandemic several months ago – resulting in no need for screening staff – there was a R450 million budget which we previously stated should be reallocated.

“This funding should be used to employ more teachers, fill critical departmental vacancies or address dire infrastructure conditions at schools.”

Keeka said had the DA’s proposal been implemented when the DA first made the recommendation, the funds saved would have allowed the department to employ 860 level one teachers on a permanent basis in addition to the 500 Grade R teachers.

Keeka said the DA would continue to put solutions on the table.

Spokesperson for the Department of Education Muzi Mahlambi said they had completed a consultative meeting with the teacher unions.

“Among other things we discussed were the Grade R educators. The MEC is still consulting on the matter pertaining to the post’s establishment with the relevant government structures.”

Daily News