2 894 teacher vacancies affect pupils

MPUMALANGA MEC for education Regina Mhaule says the province currently has 2894 teacher vacancies.

This was in response to a written question by the DA. If this figure is correct, it could mean that more than 80000 pupils do not have teachers.

When applying a teacher-pupil ratio norm of 1:29, these vacancies affect no fewer than 83926 pupils.

In many cases classes are in excess of the ratio norm of 29 pupils a class, making the above-mentioned figure a conservative estimate.

"From the MEC's response it is not clear how many of these vacancies occur at the same school, where a pupil could be effected by two vacant teacher posts," DA provincial leader Anthony Benadie said.

"Mhaule's reply also did not indicate the grades affected by the lack of teachers, implying that the 2010 Grade 12s could also be seriously affected."

The revelation flies in the face of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address that: 'We want learners and teachers to be in school, in class, on time, learning and teaching for seven hours a day."

Given these statistics, losing seven hours of teaching a day as a result of a vacant post, 20258 teaching hours are lost every day, 101290 teaching hours are lost every week and 405160 teaching hours are lost in a 20-day school month.

Benadie said the real impact on Mpumalanga pupils is immeasurable.

"Quality education cannot be delivered if there are no teachers in a classroom. In the light of the above, the Matric Class of 2010 in Mpumalanga will again be severely compromised by the inability of the department to attract, appoint and retain teachers.

"While we firmly believe that the process of appointing teachers should be simplified, the DA will submit questions to Mhaule to gain information about the department's plans to ensure these vacancies are filled without delay," Benadie said.