By ZWELETHU DLAMINI | 2021-03-28
Despite government pronouncing that schools will finally open tomorrow, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) and the Swaziland Association of Schools Administrators (SASA) have vowed that there will be no lessons until the number of teachers is doubled. This was revealed by SNAT President Mbongwa Dlamini yesterday in an interview when asked how teachers would conduct classes as in each class, they are expected to accommodate 20 pupils in order to maintain social distancing that comes with the country’s COVID-19 Regulations that would guide teachers and learners going forward. Dlamini said teachers and head teachers discovered that without the additional human resource, it would not be feasible for the teaching and learning process to take place as the arrangement requires that the number of teachers be a least doubled. He said adding salt to the injury was the putting on hold of the hiring of the contract teachers which the minister of education said was due to the absence of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) chairperson following the elapse of the previous one’s term of office. The previous TSC Chairman was Simanga Mamba and ever since his term of office came to an end he has not been swiftly replaced to take care of issues surrounding the human resource as schools reopen tomorrow after almost a whole year. “It is impractical for us to commence working without the ministry doubling the number of teachers as the classes will also be doubled and in some cases tripled. We do not want the ministry to make the working of teachers cumbersome. We had suggested that the ministry should hire 5 000 more teachers since each class has about 40 learners while others may have up to 60 pupils. We ended up scheduling a meeting for Monday with the ministry to seek a way forward as from our side it is not feasible, with the current numbers,” he said. Dlamini said the justification by the minister for the non-hiring of the teachers did not hold water to them as the ministry was long aware that the contract of the chairman of the Teaching Service Commission was coming to an end and thus should have started the process of recruiting another one timely. resume Responding to the matter of the hiring of contract teachers in Parliament recently, the minister of education and training said the employment of contract teachers would resume once a new TSC chairman has been appointed. She revealed that the TSC chairman's contract ran out and the ministry was currently working on addressing the matter. "We cannot hire teachers without the chairman of the TSC but we are working on addressing the matter and the process will be completed soon," she said. She further mentioned that once the chairman has been appointed, the ministry would also fill the vacant school principal and deputy principal positions. Dlamini, on the other hand, said they were not convinced that the ministry was addressing the matter as they have not seen an advertisement for the post yet they expected the recruitment exercise to be fair and transparent in order to ensure that the one to occupy the position is both qualified and experienced in the education sector. He said the minister’s response was not acceptable seeing as the law permitted her to appoint an acting chairman of the commission if the chairman is absent. As per the Teaching Service Act 1982, which established the Teaching Service Commission, the commission shall consist of a chairman and not less than three other members appointed by the Minister after consultation with the prime minister and on such terms and conditions as the minister may determine. Below is the provision of the Teaching Service Act 1982 on Vacancies and Temporary Appointments 12. (1) If the office of chairman of the Commission is vacant or the Chairman is, for any reason, unable to perform the functions of his office, the Minister may appoint any of the members to act as Chairman. (2) If the office of Chairman of the Commission is vacant or any member is for any reason, unable to perform the functions of his office, the Minister after consultation with the Prime Minister, may appoint a person qualified to be a member, and any person so appointed shall, subject to section 10 continue to act in such office until the office is filled or until the member is again able to perform the functions of his office or until the appointment is revoked by the Prime Minister. (3) The provisions of Section 11 (2) shall not apply to a person appointed to act as Chairman or as temporary member of the Commission.
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