KZN education MEC writes urgent plea to premier for more funds
Durban - The MEC for Education in KZN has sent an urgent request to Premier Sihle Zikalala to grant his department more funds so that it can hire more teachers needed by a new curriculum that prioritises Science, Mathematics and vocational studies.
In the SOS sent by MEC Kwazi Mshengu on Monday this week, he said in order to get the 817 new teachers required by schools across the provinces, his department would require additional funding of R377 million.
“Based on the current budget situation, and the recent budget cuts, the department is unable to increase the number of educators in its pool. A needs to transform the curriculum in schools has necessitated that some subjects be phase-out and be replaced by those that are inclined towards the new career demands. More schools are now focusing on Mathematics, Science and other key Technical and Vocational subjects.
“This new and significant trend is starting to bring some unintended consequences on certain educators who, although they are surpluses in their own schools, cannot be matched directly to curricular needs of other schools which have a shortage of educators. This challenge renders the department in a situation where it finds itself with a total of 960 surplus educators who cannot be placed since they do not match the profiles of available vacancies due to their subject specialisations,” Mshengu said in the letter addressed to Zikalala.
He said the biggest challenge is that the 960 surplus teachers cannot be utilised, and at the same time, they cannot be retrenched to make way for new teachers needed by the new curriculum.
“The recruitment of new educators will translate to an increased overall pool of educators in the system since the surpluses cannot be retrenched or retrained within a short time span to meet the new curricular needs. In the interest of quality education for learners in KwaZulu-Natal, the department cannot take the risk of not filling vacancies declared by schools,” it said.
Furthermore, Mshengu lamented that the R6 billion cut from the department's 2021-2022 budget would make it difficult to even hire these required teachers which would add to the 90 057 that are currently on its payroll.
“Adding to the pressure is the fact that the budget for the Department of Education has been decreased by almost R6 billion from the 2021/22 allocation. The budget for the department is mainly comprised of the Compensation of Employees at 83.5% and Conditional Grant payments at 6.8% which cannot be reduced. It is upon the above that the department wishes to declare upfront a possibility of over expenditure within its Compensation of Employees budget allocation.
“One alternative to avert the over-expenditure would be to leave the vacancies unfilled at the expense of learners. This is not possible. The other option is for the department to find money to pay the additional educators over and above the current pool of posts in order to address the challenge. With more funds being channeled towards Covid-19 expenditure there is no room for further reprioritization. In support of its quest to remain in service for the children of KwaZulu-Natal, it is our plea that more funds are made available for the Department to meet the current teacher demand.”
Mshengu’s departmental spokesperson, Kwazi Mthethwa, said he was still checking whether Zikalala’s office has received and responded to their urgent request.