teachers want safety

TEACHER unions in KwaZulu-Natal are firm about what they want from the department of education's budget for this financial year.

TEACHER unions in KwaZulu-Natal are firm about what they want from the department of education's budget for this financial year.

The budget is to be unveiled at the provincial legislature today. All unions said they were hoping that education MEC Senzo Mchunu would structure his budget by prioritising safety and security at all schools, implement the long-awaited allowances for teachers working in rural areas and clamp down on corruption.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said for Mchunu to be successful in his term as MEC for education, he would first have to "root out and expose corrupt officials".

Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi said safety and security at all schools has been talked about for far too long.

"As unions, we have always argued that each and every school should have an armed security guard at the gate. This year the department only managed to deploy security guards at a few schools in the province."

After an outcry about the number of teachers killed in the province's schools between 2007 and last year, the department announced that it would employ security guards at schools, but because of the financial implications it chose to begin with schools considered high risk.

The National Teachers Union (Natu) shares the same sentiments as Sadtu - that Mchunu should prioritise safety - but added that the introduction of a nutrition programme to high schools and concentration on learning and teaching support were crucial.

Natu deputy president Allen Thompson said the previous MEC had promised that the teacher-pupil ratio would go down to 1:30 per class.

"We hope that Mchunu will implement this, and judging from the poor matric results that the province achieved last year, we are hoping the ratio will be reduced to as low as 1:29. This would definitely contribute to improving the results for years to come," he said.

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