Today the Democratic Alliance marched to the Eastern Cape Education Department to deliver a memorandum of demands aimed at ensuring there is a teacher in every classroom in the province.
There is massive inequality in Eastern Cape schools in terms of the learner-teacher ratio. Some schools have too many teachers, others have too few. The Education Department also intends to cut 3 932 posts from the system next year.
We were met by SADTU and NEHAWU members staging an illegal gathering on arrival at the Education Department who then preceded to intimidate DA supporters. One would think that SADTU would support the DA's position that every classroom should have a quality teacher in it.
But, as always, politics trumps reason when it comes to SADTU.
SADTU oppose the assigning of the 5 343 teachers currently in excess at some schools to under-staffed schools. Re-assigning these people will lessen the financial burden of paying teachers who are not teaching where they are needed.
It would mean that the 3 932 teacher who face the axe may be able to keep their jobs.
When you oppose teachers being sent to schools with shortages, you force schools to compete for who gets to have maths and science teachers. That is what SADTU is doing. This is unacceptable regardless of the self-imposed financial state of the Education Department.
Despite a High court order to fill all teaching posts declared for 2012, the Department now intends to do the opposite by cutting nearly 4000 teachers out of the system. The Department is currently back in court seeking a variation order allowing it to not comply with the court's original ruling.
Also included in the DA's memorandum, were demands for improvements in textbook delivery and school infrastructure. Quality teaching must also be accompanied by sound learning environments. The full memorandum is available here.
Where the DA governs, we have a near 100% complement of teachers, the highest ratio in the country. We also have the most advanced textbook delivery and infrastructure roll-out programmes. The DA expects nothing less from the Eastern Cape Education Department.
The DA will continue to put sustained pressure on the Eastern Cape government to do the right thing and keep the teachers in our children's classrooms.