Gov starts hiring temporary teachers in bid to fill 30 000+ deficit

  • The Department of Basic Education is struggling to hire teachers despite the country having thousands of unemployed qualified teachers.
  • According to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, over 30 000 positions for teachers are currently open across SA.
  • Because of the huge deficit in employed teachers, South African learners have had to deal with overfilled classrooms for decades.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has admitted that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is struggling to fill over 31 000 teaching posts across the country.

The minister stated as much during a parliamentary hearing, where she also said that KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape have the highest number of unfilled posts nationwide. The minister’s comments roused ire from the public, as unofficial statistics posit that there are at least 30 000 qualified teachers in South Africa who are struggling to gain employment.

“These vacancies are also concentrated in our poorer, more rural provinces, with KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape having the highest at 7 044 and 6 111, respectively,” the minister wrote in response to questions from the Democratic Alliance (DA).

In KwaZulu-Natal, the department has been closing primary schools due to low learner attendance. Over 900 schools have been closed as of 2023.

According to Motshekga, filling teacher posts across the nation’s schools is an ongoing process, but a lack of teachers means overfilled classrooms as record numbers of learnings are applying to study basic education every year.

A 2018 study from Stellenbosch University found that public schools in the country have an average of 35 learners to one teacher. This is considered the maximum class size for foundation phase learners (grades R to 4) for proper teaching outcomes. A separate 2016 study from the university found that in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, one in three learners in the foundation phase are in classes of 60 learners or more.

In order to mitigate overcrowded classes, Motshekga told parliament that schools across the country are now allowed to appoint temporary teachers. The minister blamed slashed budgets as to why some provinces are unable to fill their vacancies.

National Treasury set aside R324.5 billion for the Department of Basic Education in the 2024/2025 financial year, with additional funds added to cover teacher salaries. The average salary for a teacher in the country is believed to be around R300 000 per year, or around R25 000 per month.

[Image – Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash]


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