Durban — Grade R and crèche teachers in KwaZulu-Natal have urged Premier Sihle Zikalala to intervene and end what they call exploitation by the Department of Education.
The teachers marched to the premier’s office where they handed over a memorandum on Friday, demanding that Zikalala intervene.
The teachers’ leader, Nokulunga Khumalo said that after their pleas to the department fell on deaf ears they felt it was time to take their grievances to the next level, hence the march to the premier’s office.
Khumalo said they had been exploited for years as the department had refused to treat them like all other department employees at schools.
She said it was surprising that Grade R teachers were not treated like other staff.
Khumalo, who had travelled from the rural town of Ixopo, said Grade R teachers had been deserted by everyone and were now left to fend for themselves. , She added that there were Grade R teachers who had not been paid since April, but were expected to come to school and teach on empty stomachs.
“We want the premier and the legislature to end (the) discrimination by the Education Department. We are qualified teachers but we are treated like non-entities. We demand to be permanently employed with all the benefits that are enjoyed by all government employees,” said Khumalo.
She also lashed out at the department for absorbing crèches from the Department of Social Development, saying that when teachers were moved from crèches that were receiving funds from Social Development they found there were no resources in the Education Department, and now regretted the move.
In their list of demands, the teachers want to be paid according to their qualifications and also be paid a stipend on a par with other provinces. They also want to have pension benefits like other government employees.
KZN head of education, Nkosinathi Ngcobo, said when crèches were moved to his department teachers and crèche owners were told that the conditions of their employment were not going to change until the national Education Department started a process to fully absorb them.
Ngcobo said the department explained that it would continue what Social Development had been doing, and had never promised anything to the teachers.
The premier’s spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, said he was not aware of the memorandum, but if it was submitted to the premier’s office it would have been referred to the Education Department as it related to departmental issues. In June last year Grade R teachers marched to the department, but the department’s response was that it could not afford to pay them a R15 000 stipend, citing budget cuts as one of the reasons.