The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has established that the province currently has a staggering shortage of 3 049 Senior Management Team (SMT) members at schools in the province.
The information forms part of a written parliamentary reply (view here) by provincial Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu, to questions by the DA. The reply refers specifically to Principals (PR), Deputy Principals (DP) and Heads of Department (HOD).
According to the response, KZN has a shortfall of 1 217 Principals, 467 Deputy Principals and 1 365 Heads of Department for 2021. The response also shows that the problem is not new, with shortages of 3 165 in 2020 and 2 676 in 2019. The information also shows that there has been very little improvement since 2020, with the DoE only managing to employ 116 more teachers since then.
The DA is extremely concerned by this situation, which is completely unacceptable. Despite a known history of the existence of these vacancies, irrespective of the fluctuating numbers in a particular year, budgetary allocations for posts should have been a priority consideration for KZN’s Department of Education (DoE).
Yet we now see MEC Mshengu going, begging bowl in hand, to the Premier in a further attempt to strong-arm various provincial government Departments into giving up more funds than they already have, in order to finance these vacancies.
If this does not show how poorly this Department’s finances are being managed by the Accounting officer – along with the dearth of political leadership – then what else does?
Further information contained within the reply indicates that the Pinetown Education District is the worst off, with a shortage of 431 staff across the board and a scarcity of 98 Deputy Principals.
Other districts with severe staff shortages include;
· Umlazi with an absence of 376 SMT staff
· Umgungundlovu with 307
· Harry Gwala with an absence of 286
· Zululand with a shortage of 295 and;
· Ugu with a shortage of 252.
The impact on learners with senior staff shortages for half of the academic year – on top of the shortened school week, shortages of text books and improper infrastructure in far too many schools – is just too much. All of this is worsened by the recent budget cuts.
The reply further states that there are currently 156 vacancies as a result of deaths as of the month of February 2021. Meanwhile, four senior staff were dismissed as of the same month.
The MEC and his Department further claim that the vacancies will be advertised by 15 April and filled by 18 June 2021. How this will happen remains a mystery as there are no funds available.
The DA maintains that KZN’s DoE is a cauldron of corruption with funds going into the pockets of the connected instead of being invested in the futures of our learners.
In order to realise the development of a capable state we must ensure that those citizens who will build it are given the best possible schooling. As it stands, there seems to be a construction of a house of cards on a flimsy foundation instead.
The DA remains committed to holding the ANC-run government accountable to make sure that all South Africans are placed first.