15 August 2018

South Africa: Uitenhage Learners Protest Over Teacher Shortage

A pall of thick black smoke covered Molly Blackburn Secondary School in Khayelitsha, Uitenhage, on Wednesday morning. Scores of learners stood outside the gates, demanding six more teachers for grade 10, 11 and 12 classes. They say they have been complaining since the beginning of this year.

The learners, with satchels on their their backs, sang and burnt tyres in front of the gate, blew whistles, and shouted: "We have had enough!"

The learners say the school is short of two maths, two physical science, one business studies, and one Life Orientation teacher.

Acting principal of the school Mninawa Sitole arrived at the protest and told learners: "We are not happy that you are all outside the school." He said he had spoken to the district office in Port Elizabeth. "The problem is not in the school anymore ... The matter is being handled at district level."

Sithole was booed by the learners.

" I can't continue talking in this situation. I need to see your representatives," he said.

The chairperson of the Representative Council of Learners, Lupelo Mkayi, who is 17 and in grade 12, said, "Since the first term we have had none of the needed six teachers. They keep sending us temporary tutors instead. And these tutors are not even trained as teachers ... At times, we wrote exams without teachers in front of us."

Spokesperson for the Eastern Cape Department of Education Malibongwe Mtima said, "This matter is receiving the utmost attention it deserves. We hope that the school will receive these educators as soon as possible ... We are aware that the process is at the final phase ... The recruitment process is underway. We appeal to learners to return to classes as we cannot afford time now. Examinations are around the corner."

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