Cape Town - Grade R teachers are demanding official recognition through formal employment with the Western Cape Department of Education (WCED).
This after renewed protests by Grade R teachers this week.
A group of Grade R teachers marched from Hanover Street, District Six, to the legislature, on Tuesday. Grade R teachers are employed by school governing bodies and not the WCED.
Warda Esau, a Grade R teacher for over 15 years, said the group first protested on March 1 and July 15, with around 120 teachers across Cape Town, Strand, Somerset West, Park, Kraaifontein and Grabouw.
The group demanded permanent employment with benefits and recognition of their qualifications.
“We have to sign a contract every year. I have been signing for the last 20 years now. No benefits, just a stipend which comes from the Department of Education,” Esau said. “Teachers had to retire with no pension funds. Just their salary for the month, no medical aid. We can’t afford to buy a house, let alone go to the bank because we are not permanently employed. Some of us are 50 and older. What is going to happen to us in 10 years?” The stipend ranges from R8000 to R14000.
“We are registered with the South African Council for Education. We’re recognised as teachers there and have the authority to teach but WCED does not recognise us,” Esau said.
Esau said there were times when Grade R teachers did not receive their stipend. A memorandum of demands was handed over to Early Childhood Development director Ruth Leukes.
Leukes said the department would respond in writing within two weeks.
“We consider Grade R to be a vital year in preparing learners for the Foundation Phase. Unfortunately, the national government does not consider Grade R to be a compulsory school year, and as such does not fund provincial governments to provide it,” Education MEC David Maynier said.
“The practitioners are marching to the wrong sphere of government – they should be calling on the national government to provide the necessary funding for us to provide posts to Grade R teachers.”
Spokesperson for the group and Grade R teacher Somikazi Mtya said Grade R teachers were not on the PERSAL system, and many had been unfairly dismissed from their place of employment.
Western Cape ANC Education spokesperson Khalid Sayed said there should be an increase in the ECD budget allocation and that these teachers should be employed as part of departmental staff and not as SGB teachers.