Some German teachers in South Africa say they hope the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will discuss the challenges of visas and their work permits.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is hosting the German Chancellor on an official visit at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Both leaders are expected to discuss issues of bilateral and global concerns including ways to enhance cooperation in the areas of energy and climate change among others.
Germany is South Africa’s second-largest trading partner and in tourism the third-largest single source for overseas arrivals. And trade and investment have been central to bilateral relations between the two countries with at least 600 German companies doing business in the country. With the country’s total trade with Germany estimated at around R266 billion, President Cyril Ramaphosa wants to use the visit to increase the trade volumes.
Presidential spokesperson, Tyrone Seale explains, “President Ramaphosa and Chancellor Scholz will exchange views on a number of issues of bilateral and international concern, including ways to enhance cooperation in areas such as energy and climate change, trade and investment, and responses to COVID-19 and vaccine demand. They will also reflect on developments on the African continent and internationally, including the conflict in Ukraine and its impact on the international economy and food and energy security.”
But the Germans working in South Africa are also pinning their hopes on the visit of their Chancellor. Teachers at the German International School in Johannesburg want their Chancellor to exchange notes on how to turn the energy crisis in South Africa around, insisting the intermittent power outage disrupts their teaching and learning.
“Some challenges such as load shedding, we are a quite a modern school we use digital boards, projectors and a lot of computers and this is a challenge when it comes to stage three and stage four. So we’re losing some lessons.”
“Me and my husband are trying solar energy to be independent of the grid but anyway you need to get used to it and the circumstances and sometimes it’s just nice and romantic to sit in the candle as well.”
The German International School in Johannesburg is one of the three in the country and has an enrolment of over 1 000 learners with 80 percent of them being local with at least 20 percent of them not paying any fees as they are from poor family backgrounds mainly from Soweto.
The School principal, Thomas Bachmeier says they are also struggling with their visas and work permits and want the Chancellor to help them with this challenge.
Principal at the German International School Thomas Bachmeier says, “Work permit for people from Germany and is also a challenge like I said 10 to 15 percent of our teachers need to come from Germany and sometimes is delayed and sometimes we struggle to get a renewal on time.”
And the sentiments are also shared by teachers alike. Tanja Henrichs says with their school being virtually free for learners from poor backgrounds like Soweto, they want government to allow more German learners into the country and for their work permits renewal to be fast-tracked.
“We don’t have many German learners, we need to learn the language easy for all our children and we have learners from 30 nations and most of them don’t have German at home so it would be nice to have some more German teachers but it’s easy with the political situation nowadays. For us is difficult to get visas and to get contracts and is very important for us that politicians are set into a frame so that we work efficiently together.”
Both President Ramaphosa and Chancellor Scholz will also join the South Africa-German consortium that will advance technology research for the production of sustainable aviation fuels. I am Ntebo Mokobo in Johannesburg.