Durban - TEACHER Unions in KwaZulu-Natal say the proposal to offer government employees retirement at the age of 55 would be a loss as the province was already struggling without enough experienced teachers.

Teachers’ unions were also questioning whether the benefit should be extended to teachers, especially in deep rural areas where it was a struggle to attract experienced staff.

Nomarashiya Caluza, Sadtu provincial secretary, said schools, without undermining the idea of having new teachers in the system, still needed skilled teachers that not only had good content knowledge but who also had experience in instilling discipline and providing quality education.

“We would lose experienced teachers. The reality is that we still need their professionalism and everything that comes with their experience,” she said.

Caluza said teachers who took early packages in the past, struggled and wanted to return to the system in just two years.

Thirona Moodley, of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), said the province was already offering teachers rural allowances, to attract them to teach in rural areas, but such schools were still short of qualified teachers.

“The quality of education would suffer. What the government is basically saying is that it is willing to lose the experience,” said Moodley.

The unions have also given teachers the red light, cautioning them to get professional financial advice before taking up the government’s offer for early retirement without penalties. They said there was no proper criteria communicated to them.

Moodley said this would not be financially beneficial for teachers.

“We are even questioning if this should be extended to teachers. We are living in tough economic times and it’s understandable where the pressure comes from,” said Moodley.

Both Sadtu and Naptosa agreed that it could be that the government was trying to cut the wage bill by trying to get rid of the old employees in the system, replacing them with the new employees. Sne Masuku

Daily News