Schools face critical staffing shortage with over 31 000 vacancies unfilled

Issued by Baxolile (Bax) Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
17 Apr 2024 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Baxolile (Bax) Nodada MP. 

While the ANC-led government remains hellbent on the BELA Bill, the DA can reveal that 31 462 vacancies remain unfilled across our public schools. This starkly shows the ANC’s disregard for basic education, and it is sadly unsurprising that our real matric pass rate sits at 55.3%.

Unfilled vacancies see classroom overcrowding, which explains why some schools have been reported with up to 70 pupils sharing one teacher. Unfilled vacancies, however, are just the tip of the iceberg, as public schools are significantly short of infrastructure. Pupils are forced to sit in unsafe classrooms, use pit latrines, as well as share furniture, textbooks, and stationery. These lead to terrible educational outcomes for children, as 81% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning.

These vacancies are also concentrated in our poorer, more rural provinces, with KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape having the highest at 7 044 and 6 111, respectively. Provinces also cannot fill their vacancies, as their budgets have been slashed. For instance, the Western Cape’s budget has been cut by almost R900 million by the National Government, which has seen its higher rates of vacancies.

While the ANC touts the BELA Bill, this will only worsen educational outcomes. The DA is against the BELA Bill, which seeks to disempower schools by notably doing the following:

  • Centralising school admission policies to Heads of Provincial Departments (HODs), which will create further administrative burdens.
  • Unconstitutionally dictating school language policies by also centralising policymaking to HODs.
  • Mandating Grade R, which the Department of Basic Education has not planned or budgeted for.
  • Regulating homeschooling through wide-ranging powers, despite legitimate concerns by the sector.
  • Providing HODs with unchecked, veto power over schools.

The DA, meanwhile, has a plan to rescue our failing education system. We will:

  • Ensure that learners receive 210 full teaching days, including two hours of reading and writing, as well as an hour of maths each day.
  • Improve access to and quality of Grade R , where the DA will integrate Grade R with the necessary resources and funding for schools.
  • Improve access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) subjects to ensure that learners are globally competitive and aligned.
  • Improve internet access at schools for multifaceted learning.
  • Defend the right to mother tongue education, which is not only constitutionally recognised but also shown to improve learner comprehension.
  • Test teacher competence and ensure quality teacher training.
  • Tailor-make interventions for schools, specific to their core issues.
  • Reduce dropout rates to ensure that each child receives basic education in a diversified curriculum that will allow them to acquire skills to participate in the economy.
  • Explore alternative building models to eradicate dangerous infrastructure and build more classrooms and schools faster.

Urgent change is needed to rescue our children from a failing basic education system, and this can only be achieved through the ballot box. On May 29th, we must vote to put our children’s education first and ensure that they have the brightest futures ahead.