Home South African “DBE can’t afford substitute teachers”

“DBE can’t afford substitute teachers”

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Deputy director-general Paddy Padayache told the MPs that the compensation cost in the department currently stood at R217 billion.

File image. Picture: Brendan Magaar African News Agency (ANA)

THE DEPARTMENT of Basic Education Department says provinces have begun processing replacements for the more than 20 000 teachers with comorbidities who work from home.

Briefing the basic education portfolio committee, Head of Department Mathanzima Mweli said they had received 27 000 applications but concessions were given to 22 000.

However, a report presented during the committee’s meeting showed that 20 237 teachers were granted concessions to work from home.

The report showed that there have been 6 400 replacements via substitute and assistant teachers in several provinces while the Western Cape has received 850 nominations for teacher assistants.

“Some use teacher assistants which cost less than the normal substitute teachers. The demand (for substitute teachers) is beyond what we can afford,” Mweli said.

Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba asked about the impact of the substitute teachers on the department’s finances.

He also sought to establish what systems were being put in place to assist pupils where teachers have not yet been replaced.

Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule confirmed that substituting teachers impacted on their finances.

“It is true that it does affect us negatively especially when we substitute all teachers with comorbidities and other posts.”

“The budget of the department has not covered that. We did not know when the budget was done. It did not take into account Covid-19,” Mhaule said.

Mweli meanwhile said the impact of the substitute teachers on the department was far more than what they planned for.

“Provinces are already reeling with financial implications. Our proposal was that assistant teachers be paid a little less than the normal substitute.”

Deputy director-general Paddy Padayache told the MPs that the compensation cost in the department currently stood at R217 billion.

“The cost to replace every substitute educator will be R2 billion over three months. We did not anticipate that,” he said.

Padayache added they were not necessarily under pressure before the return of all grades because they were able to utilise other teachers in other grades to teach classes of teachers with underlying conditions.

He, however, said they would be providing substitute teachers at full costs in Grades 12, 9 and 7.

Meanwhile, the department is projecting a drop-out of a total of 75 452 Grades 7 and 12 pupils this academic year.

Mweli told the MPs that although it is fairly early days after re-opening of all schools, the drop-out projections by provinces was a worrying factor.

“The cost of dropout to many nations is too ghastly,” Mweli said, adding that it posed a burden to social security and crime.

According to the figures, there were an estimated 52090 pupils likely to drop out in Grade 7 in almost all the provinces.

The figure might be more as the Northern Cape did not report on its estimate while Western Cape only provided a percentage estimated at between 5% and 15%.

KwaZulu-Natal has 38541 Grade 7 pupils likely to drop out this year, followed by Mpumalanga with 5699, Eastern Cape 3350, Free State 3030, Gauteng 1066 and Limpopo 87.

In terms of Grade 12, the department’s figures showed that there was an estimated 23362 drop-out.

KwaZulu-Natal was again leading all other provinces with 18708 matriculants. It is followed by the Eastern Cape, with 1195, Free State 1092, Gauteng 1087, North West 640, Northern Cape 580 and Limpopo 60.

Both Mpumalanga and Western Cape did not record drop-outs in this category.

The projections take place against the backdrop of 49578 pupils who are exempted from school attendance due to comorbidities, ill-health other than comorbidities and fear of Covid-19.

This happened when 2871 pupils are learning online by the school and 1306 others learning online by service providers.