On Thursday 6 January, the Eastern Cape High Court ordered the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to employ 108 temporary teachers on a permanent basis and remunerate them from the day they assumed duty. The DBE was given until 30 June to do this.
The teachers are from 17 Eastern Cape schools and were represented by the Legal Resources Centre. We caught up with one of the teachers whose life will be affected by this court decision.
My name is Lazola Mweli and I am a grade two teacher at Alfonso Arries Primary School in Port Elizabeth. I am one of the many teachers who, until this week, have been working without formal appointment and I am very happy now that I have been appointed on a permanent basis.
Being a temporary teacher has a number of challenges; you can get victimised for having a different opinion with someone who is in a more senior position. Instead of focusing on your job, you have to please those in authority. It also comes with a lot of uncertainty; you are not sure what will happen tomorrow. Things change everyday. This uncertainty and negativity can affect the learners too because you are constantly worrying about your future instead of focusing on teaching.
There are a lot of learners who don’t have father figures at home. As a male teacher, they get to love and trust you and unfortunately it’s a bit difficult to be a good role model when you are distracted about rent, transport and food money. Now that this issue has been resolved, I can start planning my life and, most importantly, I will be able to focus on my work because I am really passionate about teaching.
My message to the government is that in order for us to improve the standard of education in our country, the DBE has to take care of both us (teachers) and learners. Even if they provide all the textbooks and required learning materials, it won’t make much of a difference if the teachers are treated badly and are not paid.
To the LRC, thank you guys for upholding the law in our country, you are doing a great job. My colleagues and I appreciate what you have done for us. We promise to repay you by teaching the learners and by being dedicated teachers. Thank you very much.