R5 billion spent on teachers who are not teaching - DA

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

According to the Democratic Alliance (DA) replies to its parliamentary questions have shown that, over the past year, based on a highly conservative estimation, at least R5 billion has been spent on teachers who are not teaching.

“The Minister must explain what will be done to put a stop to this problem,” Annette Lovemore, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, said on Tuesday.

The DA said that Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, had indicated in a reply to a parliamentary question that the backlogged applications for long-term incapacity leave and ill-health retirement have gone unaddressed.

“These cases are assessed by a Health Risk Manager; these Managers are independent companies appointed by the Department of Public Service and Administration, and then assigned to deal with cases from national and provincial departments,” Lovemore said.

“For over a year, from the end of 2012 to the end of 2013, no Health Risk Managers (HRMs) were in place because an unsuccessful bidder took the procurement process to court. The HRMs were appointed in November last year and because of the massive backlogs, were tasked with dealing only with new cases. All of the old applications are still on the books. Until these cases are assessed, all of the applications are assumed to be legitimate, and the applicants are paid in full, even as they stay at home.”

He said that the cost of the 7 489 long-term incapacity leave and 2050 ill-health retirement cases, over the past year (based on an average cost-to-company teacher package of R360 000) is R3.4 billion.

“A similar amount would have to be paid to replacement teachers, if these have indeed been appointed. We know, from interaction with schools on the ground that provinces simply cannot afford to appoint replacements, and learning is thus negatively affected by this bureaucratic tardiness,” Lovemore said.

“The most recent reply reveals that provinces also have 6 583 educators on their books who are additional to the post establishment. These are teachers who might, for example, have taught at a well-attended rural school which has now diminished in size due to urbanisation, with a concomitant reduction in the number of teachers required.

“Teachers are then in excess; many have simply refused to move to schools where their services are required, and are still paid a full salary.”

She said that across the nine provinces, R2.4 billion has been spent on the salaries of these excess educators. In many cases, provinces have not been able to afford the additional funding required to fill the vacancies which these additional teachers should be occupying. In the Eastern Cape, for example, there are still 3 299 additional teachers on the province’s books. There are 3 202 teacher vacancies in the province’s schools, which cannot be filled.

“Thus, a total of (at least) R5.8 billion has been spent, in one year, on teachers who are not teaching.

Surely, a basic norm should be one qualified and competent teacher in every classroom,” Lovemore said.

“The only victims of this administrative bungling are the learners who are in classrooms without teachers.

“The Minister must explain exactly how she will reverse this unacceptable, wasteful and detrimental situation, and by when. Delay is not an option.”