Gauteng schools could face further teacher shortages this year, according to the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), but the province’s education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, said on Wednesday there were enough teachers to deal with the annual surge of new pupils.
This as the province faced a massive placement backlog for new pupils. The department had placed only 18 000 of the 58 000 pupils requiring placement in schools on Wednesday.
Speaking at the opening of the newly built Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela Primary School in Soweto, Lesufi told journalists that the teacher-pupil ratio was hovering around 37 to one, but while this did mean that more teachers needed to be employed, the numbers were manageable.
“For now we still have enough teachers to cope. We have what we call excess teachers who were declared excess because other areas’ numbers are huge. But for now in terms of teacher population we are still safe,” he said, adding that the department was allocated an additional R200 million last year to “manage the crisis of appointing teachers”.
Sadtu spokesperson Mugwena Maluleke, who visited a number of schools with teacher shortages around the province on Wednesday, begged to differ.
“If there is an increase of pupils every year like I have seen, clearly there will be shortages. I have been to a number of schools where they are missing teachers. One of them is missing four teachers. Those schools are not going to have those teachers tomorrow. They will have to wait 10 days for the head-count and for additional posts to be created, so definitely there is going to be a shortage in Gauteng,” said Maluleke.
Acting principal at Florida Primary Rhona Ragovan opened the school’s doors to 1 306 pupils this year, taking on over 200 new pupils. She said the school was originally built for 700 pupils.
Meanwhile, the department will focus its attention on building more schools in poor areas. The Gauteng education department’s director-general, Edward Mosuwe, said about 200 more schools were needed to address the backlog.
He said the department was embarking on alternative building technology to erect 600 additional classrooms for overcrowded schools as a short-term solution.