WITH just a few days left to finalise next year's teacher post basket, more than 11000 teachers across the Eastern Cape could face the axe.
This is if the Education Department fails to secure R3.4-billion of additional funding.
As the department, teacher unions, cabinet members and the provincial Treasury hold consultations to finalise next year's basket of posts, it seems a cut in the number of teachers is inevitable.
At best 5000 teachers could lose their jobs if the department fails to secure extra funding.
The department's superintendent-general, Mthunywa Ngonzo, tried to allay growing fears of job losses yesterday.
He said the department would try to ensure a minimal impact was felt on the thousands of teachers in the province.
"All of this is in the ongoing consultation process with the unions, cabinet, Treasury and the Department of Basic Education [as per the] Section 100 intervention," he said.
A number of proposals have been put forward by the department in a document from a portfolio committee workshop earlier this month, including the axing of between 5000 and 11000 teachers.
Ngonzo said 10 proposals were being bandied about, but declined to comment further.
The document, seen by The Herald, shows five proposals, which reveals that if the department kept the current 64752 teachers on staff, it would cost R3.4-billion.
This is based on the budgetary implications of the provincial Treasury's planned 1% budget cuts across all departments and a R1.6-billion penalty from national Treasury for not moving excess teachers to vacant funded posts.
The R1.6-billion penalty is the cost of the salaries of the 5343 additional teachers.
The other "options" set out in the departmental document include:
- Cutting 5395 teacher posts unless R1.8-billion is sourced by the department and the available budget of R16.2-billion for teacher compensation is strictly adhered to;
- Firing 11287 teachers, which will leave the department with no shortfall on its budget;
- Axing 10610 teachers based on a pupil to teacher ratio of 35:1. This would result in a R205-million shortfall; or
- Firing 11693 teachers based on a projected 2% drop in pupil numbers, which would come with a R123-million fiscal strain on the department's fragile budget.
The proposals have been met with scorn by teacher unions, who maintain schools will not cope with fewer teachers.
Sadtu provincial secretary Mncekeleli Ndongeni said they would do everything in their power to avoid such a "disastrous" move.
"We don't believe [that] our leadership in the ruling party and in government can allow that to happen. Not in education," he said.