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Makhanda school in court bid to have more teachers appointed

Learners leave Mary Waters Secondary.
Learners leave Mary Waters Secondary.

A Makhanda secondary school that is losing 124 teaching periods a week as a result of understaffing, has resorted to court in a bid to force the education department to appoint more teachers.

Mary Waters Secondary, a no-fee school serving a poor area of the city, says its grade eight and nine pupils have, on average, about three subjects for which they have no teacher.

Each term they are sent home with a -1 next to the subjects for which they have received no teaching.

This has resulted in parents repeatedly shutting down the school in protest.

Mary Waters school governing body chair Godfrey Brockman says in an affidavit that unsupervised classes have resulted in an increase in disciplinary issues and bullying.

The dual-medium school, which is obliged to teach its pupils in both English and Afrikaans, asked the Makhanda high court this week for an interim order that two temporary teachers already working at the school be permanently appointed and their salaries backdated to January.

It also needs a further two teachers appointed who are capable of teaching in both English and Afrikaans.

Finally, it has asked the court to order the education department to appoint a deputy principal and head of department, both of whom should also be able to teach in Afrikaans and English as well as double up to teach in two subject posts.

The school, which is being assisted by the Legal Resources Centre, wants this interim order to remain in place until it can resort back to court in a bid to have the department’s November 2021 decision to allocate a staff post establishment of just 30 teachers to the school reviewed and set aside.

Brockman says the post-provisioning formula used by the department is aimed at ensuring the right number of teachers for the number of pupils grades and subjects.

But he says the formula has to be “weighted” when it comes to dual-medium schools to accommodate their need to teach in two languages, but this has not been done.

Many of the pupils who were already academically behind because of the pandemic are now further behind because of the teacher shortage.

But, acting department head Mahlubandile Qwase denies the department got the formula wrong.

He has warned in his affidavit that if the court orders the department to appoint more teachers at Mary Waters, it will force the department to short-change another school as it has an established post “basket” of just 53,605 for 2022 for the entire province.

He suggested it was the duty of the SGB to raise funds if it feels it needs more teachers than the post provisioning provides.

He says all schools are bound by the 2022 post provisioning which has already been budgeted for.



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