North West decision to fire teachers 'uncalled for'

Boitumelo Tshehle

Boitumelo Tshehle

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has challenged the Department of Education to rethink its termination of the contracts of 2168 temporary teachers in North West.

The teachers' contracts were ended at the end of June.

The spokesman of the Sadtu North West branch, Brian Setswambung, said it was unfair of the department to act in this way.

He said the department hadnot given the teachers a month's notice before terminating their contracts.

"Most schools are in need of these teachers," Setswambung said. "They have skills. What will happen to pupils at the no-fee schools?

"These schools depend on the government for survival.

"As we speak there are about 2 000 teaching posts in our province but the department keeps on terminating contracts."

He worried that most of those axed are mathematics and physical science teachers, which he regards as a very scarce skills in North West.

About 1000 mathematics and physical science teachers have been shown the door.

"The department gave them no support," he said. "They had no help from subject advisers from the department."

Setswambung said in other provinces such as KwaZuluNatal there had been a resolution to give temporary teachers permanent contracts.

He said North West would lose teachers to other provinces .

Setswambung said the department was in the process of firing five school principals who are being charged with under-performance.

"They say the schools that are headed by these principals could not reach the 60 percent pass rate," he said.

"This is not only the responsibility of the school principals, teachers and school governing bodies.

Parents and pupils should also be held responsible for the pass rate."

He said the principals concerned had not signed any performance agreement.

"They were hired under the Educator Employment Act. This is unfair."

Department of Education spokesman Charles Raseala disagreed with Setswambung.

He said Setswambung was scared of losing members.

"He promised them that they would keep their posts now they want to blame the department.

Raseala said the termination came after they had reviewed the process of Resolution 2 of 2003, which empowers them to shift some teachers to where they are needed.

"We decided to extend the contracts of some mathematics and physical science teachers until the end of July to complete the process," he said.