Students from Njongihlanga Senior Secondary School in Ncera Village in the Eastern Cape reportedly protested against the lack of teachers by locking out all staff members at their school. The DA condemns the closing of a learning institution but acknowledges and empathises with the frustration and anger of the learners that comes as a consequence of the Department of Education’s lack of a comprehensive teacher recruitment and retention plan.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) revealed the lack of a holistic recruitment and retention strategy in a Portfolio Committee briefing last month by disclosing the following:
In a reply to a DA parliamentary question in July, Minister Angie Motshekga confirmed that her department was using only two interventions to attract and retain teachers: a bursary scheme and a policy on teacher incentives introduced in 2008.
With no comprehensive strategy in place, it is no wonder the Minister is currently facing court action to compel her department to fill 64 752 teacher vacancies in the Eastern Cape.
Why are we still developing fundamental education policies eighteen years into our democracy? Surely the recent Limpopo textbook debacle has taught the Minister and her Department that if they fail to plan it is our learners that will bear the costs of their failures.
The Portfolio briefing highlighted that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has the lowest teacher vacancy rate in the country at 1.2%.
The WCED has implemented a broad range of teacher recruitment and training initiatives, including:
The Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Education is currently under administration and so the Department of Basic Education is responsible for its administration. I will be writing to the Minister of Basic Education to recommend that the Western Cape strategy should be implemented at a national level.
A sufficient supply of qualified, committed teachers is essential for our education system to improve. The Minister must put politics aside and put our learners first.