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Teacher unions concerned over state of readiness of 186 KZN storm-damaged schools

Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jan 17, 2022

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DURBAN - AS SCHOOLS are set to open this week, teachers’ unions said they were concerned about the 186 KwaZulu-Natal schools that were damaged in recent storms.

Professional Educators’ Union (PEU) general secretary Ben Machipi said: “When a school gets damaged, there is no urgency on the part of the department to prioritise repairs. Many of these affected schools will continue as normal, as they have done for quite some time.”

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The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said they met the Department of Education on Friday to be briefed on the state of their readiness.

“There is commitment from their side that no learner shall be left without a classroom because the school is damaged. We will monitor to see if this happens as we also want all teachers, education workers and learners to return to a conducive environment for teaching and learning to take place,” she said.

Executive director of National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa Basil Manuel said it was highly unlikely that the repairs would be completed in time. “How many learners will be affected is unknown, this is very worrying,” he said.

But Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said the department was ready to begin the academic year.

He said from the 186 schools affected by the storms, 90 would need a total of 288 mobile classrooms for teaching and learning to commence.

“In order to ensure that schools are functional, mobile classrooms have been supplied to all affected schools where required. The estimated costs to supply mobile classrooms is R72 million and the overall estimated costs to repair the 186 affected schools, including provision of mobile classrooms, is R238m,” he said.

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Mshengu added that when schools opened on Wednesday, no classroom would be without a teacher and no school would be without a management team.

“A total of 2 616 school promotional posts were advertised in September 2021 and 2247 posts are already filled with incumbents to assume duty (today).”

Mshengu said a total of 355 posts remain unfilled and were expected to be filled by January 31.

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He said in the 355 posts that have been unfilled, there are people acting as well as substitute teachers.

The department said the number of pupils placed in 2022 has increased by 676 from 2569695 to 2570371. To date, the number of unplaced pupils was 1 673.

“The reasons for unplaced learners vary from late registrations, death of parents/guardians and movement of parents/guardians from one place to the other. The work of learner placement is continuing and the department is dealing with issues as they arise (walk-ins). King Cetshwayo and Umkhanyakude Districts accounts for a large number of unplaced learners in the province.”

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THE MERCURY

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