Treasury urged to relook at R6.3bn education budget cut as KZN is short of 2,000 teachers

17 August 2021 - 13:11 By orrin singh
SA Democratic Teachers Union members protest outside the KZN legislature on Tuesday.
SA Democratic Teachers Union members protest outside the KZN legislature on Tuesday.
Image: Supplied

There is a shortage of more than 2,000 teachers in KwaZulu-Natal, placing immense pressure on an already strained portfolio.

This is according to the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), whose members picketed outside the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.

Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza alleged the situation was so dire that some pupils could not write certain exams in April due to non-availability of teachers for some subjects.

“We are talking about schools which opened in February without teachers. Some pupils could not write their exams in April due to them not being taught certain subjects because of the lack of teachers,” she said.

A Durban principal, who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity, attested to this.

“I am extremely frustrated with the KZN education department’s refusal to employ or replace teachers since March this year. The excuse they use is that they have no money. Many schools have been or are still without teachers. With grade 12 pupils entering the trial exams and getting ready for finals, we have serious backlogs of work with pupils.”

Provincial education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said Sadtu’s picket fell in line with the department’s pleas for the Treasury to re-evaluate the R6.3bn budget cut imposed on the department, which is responsible for the highest number of pupils in the country.

“We are here at the march. The MEC and premier are due to receive a memorandum at 1.30pm. This financial year we were cut down by R6.3bn, which made it impossible for us to employ more teachers,” said Mahlambi.

“Sadtu are throwing weight behind us following earlier submissions made by the department. We simply cannot carry on with the budget we have been allocated.”

Sources within Sadtu said the memorandum would put pressure on premier Sihle Zikalala to engage with the National Treasury about increasing the department’s budget.

In May education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said the budget cut would severely affect pupils, teachers and the building and renovation of schools.

Mshengu said the allocated budget of just more than R53bn has been spread thinly to cover costs including administration, public ordinary school education, independent school subsidies, infrastructure development, early childhood development and examination and education-related services.