Monday 2021-05-10

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SCHOOLS OPEN WITHOUT TEACHERS

By STARSKY MKHONTA | 2021-03-29

SEVERAL schools in the Shiselweni region will open this morning without teachers, the Regional Education Officer (REO) Siboniso Gumbi revealed.

There are over 140 primary schools and over 70 high schools in the region.

In short, the region has over 210 schools and a number of new schools are expected to start operating this year. 

Gumbi said preparations for opening of schools including COVID-19 protocols have progressed well and he believes all schools have put in place all the necessities required.

He said the principals did not report any challenge concerning the issue of readiness in as far as preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“The only serious challenge I have received from a number of principals it is that of the shortage of teachers. There are schools that will open with only five teachers. Other schools are likely to open with fewer teachers than that.

I am aware of the reasons because in most schools there are teachers working on contract and these are still not employed or their contracts have still not been renewed. This is a dilemma most schools are faced with and it’s a serious one in this region,” said Gumbi.

Commenting about the food scheme (zondle) he was optimistic that schools will have food ready for the pupils. He said delivery of food was ongoing and suppliers were doing deliveries even on weekends. “In as far as food is concerned; I have no doubt that it is sorted. The suppliers have been busy and we are thankful to government,” said Gumbi.

Another challenge that Gumbi pointed out was that government has not paid for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC). “The deputy prime minister’s (DPM) office is yet to pay for the OVC. So, some of the schools rely on this money as a majority of the pupils are categorised under OVC,” said Gumbi. On the other hand, Ministry of Education Principal Secretary (PS) Bertram Stewart said the issue of the shortage of teachers does not only affect Shiselweni but all schools in the country and it was being attended by government.

He said at the moment the main challenge was the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) having no chairman after the elapse of Simanga Mamba’s contract. “The challenge of shortage of teachers in schools is being addressed.  We all know that the TSC, which is our hiring agency, has no chairman and we are still facilitating that and it’s something that the ministry is working on. The contract teachers will be back at work as soon the chairman of the TSC has been appointed; something we hope is going to happen soon.

 

Let’s be patient as this issue is top of the agenda at the ministry and government as a whole,” said Stewart, sounding optimistic.

 

Principals vow not to engage teachers without valid contracts

PRINCIPALS in the Shiselweni region have resolved not to engage contract teachers when schools open unless they produce an agreement from the employer (government).

The principal made it clear that no teacher will be allowed to start work without a valid contract.  According to Regional Education Officer (REO) Siboniso Gumbi, principals brought this to his attention that they were not going to take the risk of allowing contract teachers to start work without producing letters from the employer even if they wanted to do this on a voluntary basis.

 “The principals fear that once they allow the teachers to work without contracts they may find themselves in deep trouble should government not renew their contracts.

 They said no one is going to pay them (contract teachers) and therefore they are only going to allow them to be

The principals do not want to be held accountable should anything happen to these teachers,” said Gumbi. Ministry of Education Principal Secretary (PS) Bertram Stewart also concurred with the principals, stating that contract teachers should only report to work once they have the necessary documents.  “Yes, it would be unlawful to engage them (contract teachers) without the relevant documents confirming that they have been hired,” said Stewart.

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