Provinces scramble to accommodate pupils

Johannesburg – Provinces are scrambling to find space for thousands of pupils who were not placed in schools across the country.

Authorities are also attempting to fill necessary teaching posts as the academic year began for inland provinces on Wednesday and is expected to resume for coastal provinces tomorrow.

In Gauteng, more than 1 400 pupils remained unplaced by Friday. Gauteng department of education spokesperson Steve Mabona said officials were implementing means to provide support to schools to ensure that the 1 465 applicants who remained unplaced were accommodated in due course.

“We have transferred over  R240-million to schools for the construction of classrooms. These funds will enable the construction of 229 classrooms in identified primary schools and 270 classrooms in identified high schools,” Mabona said.

Limpopo is running against time to fill hundreds of vacant posts. A spokesperson for Limpopo department of education Tidimalo Chuene said that positions for 647 principals and 903 deputy principals were advertised in the last quarter of 2021, with half of the appointments already completed.

She said that another challenge was schools that had not placed orders for stationery on time.

“All schools were supplied with stationery packs by the end of November last year, this includes the top-up textbooks, which have been delivered to all 2 679 schools that placed orders on time – 714 schools that placed their orders late are receiving their supply as per what they had requested, however, there has to be consequence management for these schools.”

In the Eastern Cape, last week’s floods also dealt a blow to the smooth reopening of schools. Eastern Cape department of education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said:

“The recent floods are our biggest challenge in the province because our schools and other government facilities have been damaged, but we have engaged with local churches and municipalities to help us with halls – 74 schools have been damaged and out of that number, 54 have been assessed and will cost R166-million to repair. ”

KwaZulu-Natal is also facing an acute shortage of teachers. Imraan Keeka, the DA’s MPL and member of the education portfolio committee, said the province had 1 217 principals and 1 365 heads of departments including 467 deputy principals’ posts that had yet to be filled.

“The department made a commitment that these vacancies would be advertised and filled, but nothing has materialized,” said Keeka.

Walter Hlaise, Sadtu Mpumalanga secretary, said about 200 temporary teacher positions had not been renewed.

KwaZulu-Natal education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said during the 2021 academic term, the department had a challenge of placing teachers because of budget cuts.

“The educators who were appointed on a contract basis have been turned into permanent appointments. We also advertised 2 600 promotional posts and the process will be finalized in February.”

For more education news from Sunday World, click here.

Bongani Mdakane,

Coceka Magubeni

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