Department of Basic Education has no plans to employ additional teachers as more learners return to school

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that Department of Basic Education (DBE) will not be bringing in additional teachers into schools to assist in teaching split classrooms or substituting for teachers with comorbidities. And teachers will not be paid overtime for the increased workload resulting from split classrooms and absent colleagues.

In a parliamentary question, the DA sought answers from the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, on the plans her department has in place to ensure that there are enough teachers to teach all the split classrooms of the different grades, in light of increased Covid-19 health protocols and the expected absence of teachers with comorbidities. The answer was – there are no such plans.

We heard last week how this Department’s budget has been severely cut and funds transferred to other Departments such as the Army and the Police. This is no doubt one of the results of this cut.

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed huge additional pressures on schools and teachers. With more learners expected to be phased in to schools in July and August, there is going to be an increased demand for social distancing that will result in more classrooms being split. This will no doubt require more time for teaching due to the alternate times, days, and/or weeks of attendance. In addition to this, there will be an increase in the absence of teachers with comorbidities.

The DA calls on Minister Motshekga to provide clear directives on plans to fill the gap that might be left by teachers with comorbidities, who are at a higher risk of complications if they contract Covid-19 and might be required to self-isolate.

The department therefore has a responsibility to ensure that more teachers are available in schools, to avoid causing any further burden on the teachers who are able to teach.

Last week, we heard how this department’s budget has been severely cut, and funds transferred to departments such as the Army and the Police instead of being reallocated for additional salaries of teachers or other educational needs.

The DBE is shortsighted in its planning, and Treasury should be making a budget allocation for such gaps.

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