Durban - As teachers prepare to welcome more than 2 million new faces to schools across the province tomorrow, the MEC for Education in Kwa- Zulu-Natal, Kwazi Mshengu, is confident it will be a smooth start to the 2020 academic year.
Speaking at a media briefing at the Sivananda Technical High School, in KwaMashu, yesterday, Mshengu said plans were in place to ensure learning went ahead smoothly.
Mshengu said meetings were held to address issues, including teacher shortages, school safety, scholar transport and the vandalisation of learning and teaching support material (LTSM).
“In September last year we consulted with teacher unions and the school governing body associations to solidify the process towards ensuring that no class would be without a teacher on the first day. We expect that 86000 teachers in the province will be in class on Wednesday.”
Mshengu said 1683 security personnel would be deployed to augment the 1500 volunteers hired last year and there would be ongoing engagement between schools, law enforcement, the department and communities.
Regarding scholar transport, Mshengu said despite the programme facing a massive funding shortfall, the department remained committed to providing the service to pupils.
“This year, we will be transporting 58908 pupils and we will continue to engage with national and provincial Treasury to secure more funds to expand the service,” Mshengu said.
“By the end of 2019, all LTSM had been delivered to schools and our offices remain on standby should there be additional requirements. In cases where LTSM was damaged, school management needs to report it to our district offices,” he said.
Education analyst Professor Labby Ramrathan of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Education, said the issues highlighted by the MEC were ongoing challenges.
Regarding the issue of teacher shortages, he said: “This is a human resource issue and the department has a database of how many teachers were available. Another issue is the specialisation of teaching subjects and as such, there needs to be a move away from SGBs hiring teachers.”
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) and the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said they had been in talks with the MEC and department stakeholders.
Naptosa KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley said she was positive about the implementation of programmes set out by the department.
She said the issue of teacher shortages had been addressed by the bursary programme which was being offered by the department for students to study and be able to teach priority subjects.
Moodley said regarding school safety, budgeting remained an issue.
“Last year there were further budget cuts. Here, the department needs to look at high crime areas and deploy security to those areas. Ideally, the department should be hiring security for all schools but this isn’t feasible with the financial constraints.” Sadtu’s Nomarashiya Caluza added that most of the issues laid out by Mshengu were from bilateral meetings held in December. She added that they urged the department to ensure that programmes ran smoothly.
KwaZulu-Natal Parents Association chairperson Vee Gani said that while the MEC raised a number of shortfalls and measures put in place to get the 2020 academic year off to a smooth start, he was hopeful that all projects would run without hassles.