Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

Teacher ‘shortages’ due to school locations, not lack of permit renewal, says dept

The Immigration Act, the Citizenship Act, and the Refugees Act are being reviewed, dramatically curtailing the liberties of foreign nationals working in SA.

Claims that the department of basic education’s decision not to renew the contracts of about 254 foreign teachers without permanent residence permits has led to a predicament in some provinces has been met with scepticism.

According to the Sunday Times, the move has left a “gaping hole” in North West and Limpopo, with some maths and physical science classes now having to accommodate up to 66 pupils at a time.

But education expert Mary Metcalfe said provincial governments must comply with home affairs processes and that one of the issues regarding teacher shortages was the location of schools relative to where teachers prefer to reside.

She could not say whether there were enough SA mathematics and science teachers as, according to her knowledge, there was no central data on shortages as employment was a provincial responsibility.

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“Some areas of the country struggle to attract teachers,” she added.

The department of home affairs is currently reviewing the Immigration Act, the Citizenship Act, as well as the Refugees Act, dramatically curtailing the liberties of foreign nationals working in the country.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said that SA needed to modernise its laws to reflect its current circumstances as some laws were enacted in a period when the situation was very different.

The minister has said that a law capping the number of foreigners that local-owned businesses can hire was currently being finalised.

Under the new regime, Zimbabwean and other foreign students studying at SA tertiary institutions in critical skills areas will no longer have the automatic permanent residency privilege.

The department has also published the final list of critical skills, in a move to prioritise the employment of South Africans. This comes after Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi expressed concern about the illegal hiring of foreign nationals in the country, as well as illicit recruitment practices.

The department has developed a new national labour migration policy and proposed amendments to the existing Employment Services Act, arguing that the changes were aimed at addressing population expectations regarding access to work.

North West University political scientist Andre Duvenhage said politicians were taking a populist attitude and that the challenge with SA’s labour force was not employability but lack of work ethics.

“I do not think government will be able to manage this. It is mostly blaming outside elements for internal problems and to me it is xenophobic tendencies… who is next?

“The truth is without foreign workers SA will be in trouble,” he said.

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