Task force to address unemployment among teachers

Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture executive director Sanet Steenkamp on Monday managed to avert a possible demonstration of unemployed teacher graduates scheduled for tomorrow.

Steenkamp held a five-hour meeting with the representatives of hundreds of unemployed teachers, where it was agreed that a task force be set up to further iron out issues.

“In the end, every person had the right to say what was in their hearts so that when they leave that room, we don’t have regrets. People spoke from their hearts. We listened to them and they said they learnt a lot from the ministry. And from the ministry’s side as well, we realised the need to go back and improve on our communication with the customers and all our stakeholders,” said Steenkamp.

Part of the task force’s mandate is to look into the issue of teacher mass recruitment.

“On mass recruitment, we can’t do this in the ministry because there are teachers from every field, and the law prohibits. It will discriminate against others.

All competent people must compete for positions. But the committee will look at it,” Steenkamp said.

The task force will comprise four representatives from the unemployed teachers’ group, and four from the education ministry’s directorates. A proposal was made to include a representative from the ministry of higher education, of which a letter will be written to the ministry with the request.

“There was a request that we stop teacher courses at universities. This is not within our mandate. The committee must come up with their terms of reference and we do need to be prescriptive. Then we need to interrogate issues such as the Affirmative Action Act,” said Steenkamp.

The task force will meet again on 8 April to deliberate on the way forward, reach out to qualified teachers with disabilities and to unpack the resolutions made so far, alongside other technical matters.

“The key resolutions are that we will go to the labour ministry with them so that they are listed and get registered on the national integrated information system. The committee will also do this,” Steenkamp said.

The unemployed graduate teachers’ negotiating team was led by chairperson David Nekaro who confirmed that the demonstration was on hold.

“We have communicated to the inspector general that this should be halted until further notice. We need to give time for the leadership to be able to work on our submissions and proposals.

“The protest came as a result of the ministry not responding to our previous petition, the ministry did not engage with us in any manner, and we had felt neglected and disrespected. So, we managed to get the ministry on track, which they honoured, and the best response from us was to stop the protest.

“It is a good thing because there won’t be chaos. It will also get the ministry on their part to be accountable. So, we are happy with their promises and we will find time to make them accountable. They proposed a taskforce to work on the matters affecting teachers. That I believe will make a lot of technical matters to be understood better and resolved. We need to make it effective.”

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