Teacher post cut slated

Remedial proposal will disadvantage other pupils, say educators

Another crisis is brewing at schools across the province, with education authorities proposing schools cut teacher posts to make way for remedial educators for pupils with special needs.

But schools across Nelson Mandela Bay held meetings this week to appeal against the decision, saying they could not afford to lose any teacher posts and that the provincial Education Department had not taken into account how many pupils with special needs attended each school.

West End Primary principal and Northern Areas Education Forum chairman Ronnie Matthys said schools had been notified on Monday that while their teacher numbers were not increasing, all would have to make provision for the inclusion of two to three remedial teachers for the education of pupils with special education needs (Elsen).

“For instance, if your school has 400 learners you will receive 20 teacher posts but three of those posts have been made additional, which means they will be filled by remedial teachers.

“So the result is that you are only sitting with 17 teachers. Those three remedial teachers are not enjoying permanent status,” he said.

Matthys said a quick survey of 28 schools in the northern areas had revealed that schools would lose 77 post level one teacher posts, 15 HOD posts and two deputy principals.

“We have until October 17 [Monday] to appeal and this needs to be submitted to our EDO [education development officer]. All the principals are extremely disappointed.

“They are obviously trying to solve the problem of Elsen learners at schools but they should have taken cognisance of how many attend each school.”

Matthys said pupil numbers at schools did not always tally with those of the department and this should be corrected.

“The meetings that were held this week were well-attended and we believe all schools will be appealing.”

Education Department spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said the appeals process was part of the normal postprovisioning process.

“The department welcomes the input from principals and will engage with them.”

He said Education MEC Mandla Makupula and acting superintendent-general Siza Netshilaphala would hold a media briefing in due course.

Astra Primary School principal Desmond Lewis said according to the draft post provision for next year the school – which was shut down by parents earlier this year due to a shortage of teachers – would have to lose another three teachers next year.

“There is a lot of confusion which needs to be cleared up and that is why we are compiling this appeal on behalf of our school. We must now lose an HOD post, a post level one post and a Grade R post but it does not look like our Grade R pupil numbers have been taken into account.

“I am extremely worried because this could have major repercussions.”

Newton Park Primary School principal Pine Pienaar confirmed that a meeting of principals had taken place at the school on Tuesday.

“It was a meeting to support each other and to provide advice on how to fill in these forms for the appeals process,” Pienaar said. “We will be appealing as well.”

DA Education MPL Edmund van Vuuren said: “I would encourage all principals to send in their appeals in time because the department cannot give you something you do not need. I suspect the department is trying to solve the problem of its 4 200 excess teachers in the province by sending them to schools as remedial teachers.”

Local education expert Professor Susan van Rensburg questioned whether the department had enough sufficiently trained teachers to handle pupils with special needs.

“You cannot over-compensate for Elsen learners to the detriment of ordinary children who are already falling behind due to the shortage of teachers in schools,” she said.