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The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal says it is ready for the reopening of schools for the New Year. All public schools in the province are expected to open next week Wednesday whilst a number of private schools opened this week.
MEC Kwazi Mshengu says although there are challenges about the placement of some learners at some public schools, it will not affect the reopening and learning.
Thousands of learners are expected to go back to schools in KwaZulu-Natal next week. The placement of learners and lack of resources are some of the challenges the Department of Education says need to be addressed.
Mshengu says he is optimistic that nothing will disturb the opening of schools as they have filled some of the most critical posts that were vacant.
“We have been working with the preparations as early as last year and we are at the stage where we are tying up the few loose ends to make sure that the first school day becomes effective. The educators, 643 of them who were appointed on a temporary basis have been converted to be full-time educators. We were able to advertise 2 600 posts and 2400 of them have been filled and the remaining ones will be filled at the beginning of February.”
Weather conditions damaging infrastructure
The inclement weather conditions also had a negative impact on school infrastructure. Mshengu says in KwaZulu-Natal there are 90 schools that require mobile classrooms.
“We have been experiencing inclement weather conditions in the province and 186 schools were affected, 90 of them were severely affected and they will require mobile classes. But everything by next week will be ready including the provision of PPEs.”
Mshengu says the cutting of the department’s budget with more than R6 billion last year crippled its programmes. He says they need R1.3 billion to avoid the retrenchment of teachers.
“Indeed we still need R1,3 billion at least to be quite certain that we don’t go back again to possible retrenchments. As we start the new financial year 2022, if we don’t get that, we will be forced to enter into the debate of possible retrenchments.”
KwaZulu-Natal residents count their losses after a storm:
Unions want schools ready for the new academic year
Responding to this, South African Democratic Teachers Union’s provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza says not all schools will be ready next week.
“In KZN there is always an issue about the state of readiness and of course we will find ourselves moving and monitoring. Right now there are schools that are ready and I can say 95 % and there are schools that show signs of unreadiness. We have asked for an urgent meeting with the MEC tomorrow so that we polish everything and be confident that when teachers come back on Monday, everything is in place, and if not, at least work around the clock to ensure that the environment is conducive enough for learners.”
A spokesperson for the National Teacher’s Union, Cynthia Barnes says there are schools that were vandalised during the unrest that still need attention.
“Schools in deep rural areas were the most affected schools and we call on the department to prioritise these schools and avoid inequalities in the department and we also request the Department of Education to provide mobile classes to those schools with a high number of learners.”
Meanwhile, there are thirteen new subjects that are expected to be introduced by the department in phases which include technical maths, technical sciences and others.