KZN Education Dept accused of operating like a ‘tuck shop’

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Teachers’ union SADTU accused the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department of running its affairs as if it is a tuck shop, not heeding to procedures or agreements.

Thousands of SADTU members marched to the Durban City Hall to present a long list of grievances.

This includes schools, that haven’t received their budget from government, vacant teaching posts and teachers not receiving their wage increase.

Teachers Union, NATU raised similar concerns, saying the department is in a shambles.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education, Mbali Frazer say some of the problems stem from austerity measures imposed by National Treasury.

SADTU in KwaZulu-Natal says the Education Department’s Durban head office’s electricity has been cut off due to unpaid municipal bills.

The union says many schools in the province have only received half or less of their government budget.

They add that 11 000 learners in the province don’t have teachers because of vacant posts are not being filled.

This emerged when SADTU handed over a memorandum of grievances to MEC Frazer.

SADTU’s provincial secretary, Nomarashiya Caluza says the department is being run like a tuck shop.

“Because in a tuck shop, you own it, you do as you wish. In a tuck shop there are no laws. You just sleep, dream, and you wake up and implement whatever you dreamt about. As such they decide willy-nilly on how much must be paid and when must be paid to schools. This year a new measure was introduced wherein schools were paid half, or less than half – because we don’t know, there was no clarity, there was no explanation given to schools.”

SADTU says nothing has come of the department’s undertaking to absorb 500 grade R teachers from early childhood development centres.

One such teacher, who didn’t want to be named – says she has been teaching for 13 years and have been forced to first do a 3-year diploma course followed by a degree.

The teacher says she is nearly 40 with no salary increases, pension or medical aid to show.

“Even medical aid. I mean I’m in a queue at a government hospital and I’m a teacher. I’m teaching people, I mean … people who have children in my class who work in the government, they have pension and I don’t have pension. When my kids are sick, I’m standing in long queues in a government hospital and being treated so unfairly. It’s ridiculous… I mean in all honesty, I pay tax. And what do I have for it? Absolutely nothing.”

Another teacher says several classes at the school where he works do not have teachers.

“We have to share. Sometimes we have relief classes. But relief is not attended. So, sometimes you rotate teaching and you see that class. And then after seeing that portion of the class, you see that other portion to try and balance off, but some portion ended up not being taught.”

After SADTU’s memorandum handover, Frazer said some of the issues that were raised stems from the fact that National Treasury did not fund the wage increases given to the public service sector.

“But there has been a commitment coming from National Treasury that they are going to fund the wage bill. Though we are told that they are not going to fund everything, but we hope that – since they have committed – we are going to cover a number of issues that have been raised today.”

Frazer promised to study the grievances and meet with SADTU within 2 weeks.