Too many vacant posts in education, MPs told
CAPE TOWN — Provincial education departments were not planning adequately for the filling of vacancies, nor did they have contingency plans for unanticipated vacancies caused by deaths or resignations, Parliament’s basic education portfolio committee heard on Tuesday.
In its presentation to the portfolio committee on teacher demand and supply earlier on Tuesday, the Department of Basic Education said more than half of all schools in the country had vacancies by March this year.
Of the provinces, Gauteng had the highest vacancy rate, with 99.5% of all schools affected.
Teacher shortages have crippled the Eastern Cape, with the province said to be heavily reliant on temporary teachers.
Earlier this year, the Legal Resources Centre took the Department of Basic Education to court to compel it to allocate teachers to schools and pupils to teachers in the province.
The department’s Devi Pillay told MPs that the overall vacancy rate in all schools had increased between January and March this year.
Ms Pillay said the human resources management practices at most provincial education departments were ineffective and inefficient, and contributed to the problem of teacher shortages.
"Ineffective management of the post-provisioning process has a negative effect on all educator recruitment and deployment process," Ms Pillay said.
She also told MPs the use of temporary appointments had increased between January and March this year, from 8% to 12%.
"The analysis shows that a significant number of temporary educators are professionally qualified (and) qualify for permanent appointments."
To address some of the issues contributing to the problem of teacher shortages, Ms Pillay said, the department was developing human resource planning tools to support medium- to long-term forecasting of demand and supply of educators.
She said the department would also continue to work with provincial education departments to reduce the use of temporary teachers.
This would include the conversion of suitably qualified temporary teachers "who occupy substantive posts" to permanent status.
A number of MPs, however, felt the department was not clear on what "long-term" strategy it would implement in order to tackle the problem of teacher shortages.
"We are clearly not planning to replace the large number of teachers we are losing ... how are going to turn this around?" asked Democratic Alliance MP Annette Lovemore.
"Forty-three percent of teachers leaving the profession are between the ages of 30 and 39, what are we doing to retain these teachers?"
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