THE LIMPOPO department of education said yesterday that it had contracted about 600 teachers from Zimbabwe to cope with the shortage of science, mathematics, commerce and technology teachers in the province.

Most of the teachers have been posted to schools that specialise in maths and science subjects.

The province has 51 schools that are classified under the Dinaledi project, which seeks to improve the standard of mathematics and science.

Education MEC Namane Masemola said the province, experiencing a serious scarcity of teachers offering these subjects, had therefore decided to enlist the services of Zimbabwean teachers.

Masemola was speaking at a media session in Polokwane yesterday.

"Teacher provisioning for our schools is an important exercise to ensure quality learning and teaching."

He said they had also extended the contracts of temporary teachers - until the end of March this year - to allow the redeployment exercise to be completed.

According to the MEC most of the foreign national teachers were located at schools in the Senwabarwana region and were doing an "excellent" job.

He said the Zimbabwean teachers were paid the same salaries and benefits as their South African counterparts.

The process of verifying their academic qualifications was conducted by the South African Qualifications Authority and the National Department of Education - and Zimbabwean teachers would not be considered for jobs before going through that process, Masemola said.