Northern Areas schools expected to re-open on Thursday morning

JULY 30, 2015

Schools in Port Elizabeth's Northern Areas are expected to be re-opened on Thursday morning following violent protests over the lack of teachers - that saw the closure of around 32 schools in the area by parents last week Monday.

Parents, residents and the Northern Areas Education Forum (NEAF) decided on the date schools would re-open at a meeting on Tuesday night.

"The reason why it is on Thursday is because there are logistics that need to be sorted out, like telling the children and some of the principals and teachers that we are re-opening," NEAF secretary Richard Draai told News24 after the meeting. 

He said the NEAF had a signed copy of minutes of a meeting held with the department on Sunday. A second meeting was held with the department earlier on Tuesday, where the minutes were agreed upon. 

The minutes described some of the grievances and plans on how to deal with them. 

"Now we have to take the issues forward with the department and decide on what has to happen and how it will happen."

On Monday, residents closed schools down because of the lack of teachers, and because some of the teachers were not being paid. 

The protests turned violent, and police had to disperse them with teargas, rubber bullets, stun grenades and a water cannon. 

On Tuesday, children from homes overlooking Stanford Road pelted police Nyalas with rocks, and police again used rubber bullets to disperse them. 

Journalists and police were also pelted with rocks by some children. 

Draai said the children were reacting to a nearby shooting on Tuesday. 

"A person was shot in a... criminal incident on Stanford in the morning, and that is what set it off. The police would have more details of that shooting."

Police could not be immediately reached comment. 

'Language of instruction is Afrikaans'

Eastern Cape Education MEC Mandla Makapula told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the department was working to address the shortage of teachers. 

"This year, Port Elizabeth has been in the news due to a shortage of educators emanating from natural attrition and resignations, including promotions," he said. 

"We had initially given this district 173 post to address this and 124 were filled. In addition, in May this year we gave the district 122 posts to fill all other vacant posts, following an audit on the shortage of teachers."

He said the shortages were for Afrikaans-speaking teachers in Maths, Science and the Foundation Phase. 

"In most of the schools in the northern area, the language of instruction is Afrikaans," he said. 

"Out of 122 posts, only 55 were appointed as of last week and schools are still submitting [their numbers]. Numbers might have changed as I am sitting here."

He said the problem of non-payment of teachers was being addressed. 

"All teachers who have done their work must be paid." 

Makapula said the department identified 213 teachers that were not paid. Of that figure, 177 would be paid by August 8. 

 

---News24wire