The IFP pays special tribute to the thousands of brave and committed teachers in South Africa under the theme, “Teachers at the heart of education recovery”. This is as per the proclamation made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to inaugurate 5 October as World Teachers’ Day. Since 1994, this Day has been dedicated to raising awareness, understanding and appreciation for the incredible contribution that teachers make to education and development globally.
This year's theme speaks to the support teachers need to fully contribute to the education recovery process. The IFP calls upon the government in South Africa to provide meaningful and adequate support to education, the teaching profession and educational support staff, to meet the demands of the changing teaching environment.
Teachers in South Africa do not receive adequate and continuous support and development. Teachers have also been expected to carry a heavier workload, due to changes caused by the coronavirus and changes in the curriculum. Continuous training and rigorous development is required to equip teachers for these changes, in order to still produce quality results and improved performance from learners.
As we continue to face the economic onslaught brought on by Covid-19, we have to face the reality that we have lost many great teachers, which has affected our education system negatively. Indeed, the social and economic consequences brought on by the pandemic have deepened and are felt in numerous schools across the country.
The existing teacher shortage remains a nightmare as the teacher/learner ratio is extremely high in South African schools, and especially in KwaZulu-Natal. More teachers and teacher assistants are needed in the system. The Department has more than 2000 existing vacant teaching posts, which will not be filled in this current financial year, due to the ongoing financial crisis.
Just recently, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu, announced that the Provincial Treasury told the Department to cut over 6 000 staff, including more than 2 000 teachers, due to financial difficulties. We note that these plans have been halted, however, more plans should be forthcoming from the national government, to deal with the shortage of teachers.
Despite the teacher shortages, we applaud teachers who, during this Covid-19 crisis, have shown great strength, determination and innovation in ensuring that learning and teaching continues and that no scholars are left behind. Their courage is applauded.
Another issue is that of security in schools, which continues to be extremely poor, exposing both the teachers and learners to heinous crime and drugs on a daily basis. What exacerbates this dire situation is that neighbouring communities are not doing enough to protect schools against crime and to prevent drugs being sold to learners.
Communities and parents are urged to note that without their full support in bringing solutions to the problems facing education and schools, the problems will likely get out of control. Solutions should not only come from the government or teachers, everyone has a responsibility.
We therefore call on all stakeholders, learners, communities, educators and government to play their respective roles in ensuring that education, teachers and learners are prioritised and protected at all times, in order to fully recover from the impact of Covid19.
Hon. T. P Madlopha-mthethwa, MPL
IFP KZN Spokesperson in Education
079 114 3015