“What have we done? Our only sin was to get educated,” the teachers chanted.
The marchers made their way to the city hall where they handed over a memorandum to the Department of Education.
Some of their demands included transparency over how teachers were selected for employment from the department’s database and a transparent process in employing teachers.
Ngilo Ndlovu is a 32-year-old teacher who studied Maths and Physics at the University of Zululand. She has been seeking employment since 2016.
“The only thing preventing me from giving up is my parents’ support,” said the Chatsworth resident.
She said she went to many schools only for her to be turned away. She said some principals said they wished they could hire her but they no longer had the power to do so.
“When I went to study, I told my children to be patient with me for four years as life was going to get better for us. However, after I finished studying and not finding a job, they are now asking me when I will start working like I promised them,” Ndlovu said.
She said other teachers had given up and had become outcasts in their families.
Ndlovu believed the march would get the message across to the department.
Celiwe Ngcobo, another graduate who was part of the protest, has been waiting for two years to get a job.
She said she had made numerous applications and put her name on the department’s database with no joy. Just like Ndlovu, she said various principals had told her that they did not have the power to appoint teachers.
The stress of being jobless has resulted in her having constant headaches. The 38-year-old mother said the only people who got employed were those who were connected and those who paid bribes.
“I have become a joke to people in the neighbourhood and younger siblings are thinking it is not worth it to get educated if you are not going to get a job,” she said.
Ngcobo said if the department did not listen to their complaints, they would continue their protest.
Kwazi Mthethwa, provincial Education spokesperson, said they have had talks with various stakeholders about providing quality education. “The Education MEC recognises their (the teachers’) importance and believes that if the department had enough resources and budget, many of them would have been employed by now,” he said.
Mthethwa said the department would meet all stakeholders and unemployed teachers.