1 August 2017
On 28 until 30 July, 2017, SADTU KZN held a Political School for leaders of the Union. More than 700 leaders drawn from 80 branches and 7 regions in the province, attended. As part of the discussions, were the declining standards of living, the austerity measures which result in the growing unemployment and silent retrenchments.
SADTU remains shocked and worried by the growing tendency of the Department of trying everything possible to reduce the allocation of resources to schools. It is for the first time that there is such a huge outcry by members of School Governing Bodies and School Management Teams. The outcry is as a result of reduced norms and standards allocations which equals pick pocketing of schools. When such things happen, we doubt the commitment of the very same officials responsible for dispensing monies to schools whether they fully understand the mandate of the Department which is to ensure delivery of quality public education. There cannot be a situation where the Department tries all tricks to save and in the process compromise the very same mandate the Department has an obligation on. Some schools have received less than half of the expected allocation.
The funding of schools in our province is currently inadequate, irrational and unconnected to the dire needs and resourcing for schools. The department of education in KZN is currently unable to match the national norm for funding as determined by the National Department of Basic Education. The schools in Quintile 1 to 3 should be receive R1 242 for each learner but they are allocated R955. This on its own is a travesty of equalities fought for and 23 years into our democracy and paints a grim picture for the delivery of quality education in the province.
Under the leadership of MEC Mthandeni Dlungwana, the Department of Education has, for the first time robbed the poorest of the schools, large amounts of funds by making gross cuts of norms and standards for many schools particularly in rural areas. Some schools received mere R90 000 when they had expected R489 000 and the disparities differ proportionally from school to school. We find this incongruent with the stated objectives of the department to improve results across the spectrums of the schooling system. Schools are now expected to do more with less and there are no means to compensate for the lost income. Many of these school have higher concentration of learners from low income or no income families with parents either unemployed or being recipients of social grants. Transparency in allocation of funds is critical in ensuring that every child has access to quality education. The Department goes further to make deductions for domestic accounts mainly for electricity and water usage without engaging both the schools and the municipalities. It is our view that municipalities, seemingly baying for the resources of our institutions, have identified schools as easy targets to collect revenue. The Department of Education cannot readily and blindly deliver schools to cash trapped municipalities whose billing systems have caused financial havoc to many.
STATUS OF LEARNERS WITHOUT DOCUMENTATION
One thing that we do not believe the entire society including SADTU is prepared to take is the claim that learners without IDs must not be in school. Our understanding is that education is a right enshrined in the Constitution of the country. Learners without IDs cannot be discriminated against and denied education on the basis that they do not have IDs. The norms and standards paid to schools is the money that is paid for each learner in the school. The admission to any public school does not have an ID number only as a requirement but clinic cards are also accepted. Why does the department find it difficult to pay allocation for those learners? SADTU strongly believes what the Department is doing is tantamount to denying these learners access to education. This defeats the aspirations of the Freedom Charter
Our principals are at the moment devastated as the situation that obtains forces them to use their own personal finances for school programs to continue. There is no way that SADTU can allow this to continue as it is highest level of exploitation. Our principals are deep in debt as they borrow money to run schools with the hope that when the allocation comes they recoup their dues. In areas like Umkhanyakude and King Cetshwayo Districts, for example, some schools did not receive the allocation at all.
Non implementation of nutrition programme in KZN on time
It is an undisputable reality that the school nutrition programme enhances learning capacity of learners who otherwise would have spent a day in school and grasp learning on empty stomachs. This is one plausible success of our government designed to uplift the standard and life of learners in poor schools. It is fundamentally important that access to a nutritious meal for each learner should equally be safeguarded by all including those who stand to benefit materially from the transactional nature of this programme. This is essentially a poverty alleviation project as stated by the Department of Education, it should attract the support of all and transcend narrow personal financial interests of providers.
We reported as SADTU that many learners were deprived access to meals because some of the suppliers awarded work to deliver food persistently reneged on contractual obligations but continued to be paid by the Department. Management of this lucrative business totaling R1,4 billion a year for profit orientated providers must be transparent and monitored for the benefit of the poor kids. We call on all interested parties to avoid gambling with the hunger of our children. More importantly, to realize stated objectives to provide a healthy meal for a healthy mind such cannot be from stale produce delivered at our schools by negligent service providers. We call upon the Department to monitor the quality of food delivered to schools as failure to do so shall lead to leaerns being exposed to food poisoning. The provision of nutrition was better handled by School Governing Bodies who had an opportunity to contribute to local economic development through localization of suppliers. We call on the Department to consider local women's cooperatives to enhance local economic development. It appears to have been a misjudgment on the side of the Department to centralize procurement of suppliers instead of building capacity within SGBs, providing support and strengthening monitoring of the processes.
NON FILLING OF VACANCIES
As part of the Department's austerity measure, the KZN Department of Education is not filling vacancies and as a result, workers are overloaded both in schools and offices. What the department is doing is silent retrenchment because even posts that become vacant because of attrition are not filled. What annoys us most is that come the end of the financial year, the report presented is that millions of rands are not used and that money is meant for employee compensation. The department, we believe, in its quest to save for programs known to them, compromise quality through neglecting the appointment of personnel. Many workers are acting without being paid acting allowances which is the highest level of exploitation.
The MEC must have a concern that for the first time, and this happens when he is at the helm, the Department advertises office based posts, lets people apply and puts a moratorium on the processing of such. There is HRM Circular 39 of 2016 which has not been processed and we are saying it is for the first time.
This goes together with the arrogance of the employer that decides unilaterally to issue circulars that speak on issues that are ordinarily discussed in the ELRC. HRM 5 of 2017 was issued by the Department without any consultation. The circular has caused a lot of confusion in the Department and in the society. It effectively puts a moratorium on the appointment of teachers who resigned and are now willing to come back. As SADTU we urge the HOD to withdraw the circular as it goes against the Constitution of the country as part of its content discriminates in terms of age. Also by law there is no retrospective application of policy. It is wrong for the Department not to process appointments that took place before the circular was issued. All these educators must be paid.
SADTU, like everyone else, is concerned with the political unrest in the country and the province in particular that has resulted in killings of people. Some of the people who have been killed were members and leaders of SADTU. Also we stand firm against violence directed at women, children and LGBT and as such we take it to ourselves to be part of any group in the society that campaigns against such acts. We have also witnessed killings of teachers in the province. SADTU is reiterating its call for the Department to ensure security in our schools to enhance safety and security of workers and learners.
Having noted all this SADTU has decided to have a provincial prayer on Friday, 4 August 2017, at Coastlands Hotel in Durban. We believe that we have to attack in all fronts. SADTU is doing this to also welcome Women's Month.
Issued by the Provincial Secretariat on behalf of the Provincial Executive Committee
082 611 7027
Deputy Provincial Secretary
082 611 7028