The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has no plans to bring in additional teachers, nor does it have plans to pay existing teachers overtime for an increased workload due to split classrooms and absent colleagues. This is according to the Democratic Alliance (DA). 

DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION HAS NO PLANS TO BRING ON ADDITIONAL TEACHERS

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 there are enough teachers in light of the COVID-19 health protocols and the expected absence of teachers with comorbidities. 

According to the DA, Motshekga said there are no such plans, indicating that the department would not be bringing in additional teachers to assist in teaching split classrooms or substituting for teachers with comorbidities. Also, teachers would not be paid overtime for the increased workload resulting from split classrooms and absent colleagues.

Motshegka’s response to the DA’s question was:

“The same number of teachers will be used to teach in terms of the trimmed curriculum and reworked timetables. On the whole, there will be no need to appoint additional educators in large numbers to accommodate social distancing.”

Regarding overtime payment for teachers, Motshekga said:

“Where educators will be required to work additional hours, it will be within reasonable limits, also taking into account that all extra-curricula activities have been suspended.”

DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education Nomsa Marchesi said: “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.”

INCREASED DEMAND FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING 

With the COVID-19 pandemic and more learners expected to be phased into schools in July and August, there is going to be an increased demand for social distancing that will then result in more classrooms having to be split. Naturally, if classes are split, more teachers will be needed to accommodate that change.  

“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,” said Marchesi. 

“The DA has called on 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,” said Marchesi. 

The blue party said the department 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 [the] Treasury should be making a budget allocation for such gaps,” added Marchesi. 

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Presh JM Reporter

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