The basic education department says it will use the next two weeks to monitor where there is a need to employ additional teachers, as all grades have now returned to schools.
From Monday, grades 5 and 8, as well grades 4 and 5 at schools for pupils with severe intellectual disabilities, returned to the classroom.
Some grades returned for the first time since schools had to shut its doors in March due to Covid-19.
Grade 7s and 12s returned from 8 June, but went on another break from 27 July, following concerns over the spike of cases.
But concerns remained, with unions like the National Professional National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), saying schools were still experiencing challenges with teachers and the replacements of those who have since had to leave the system due to comorbidities and others working from home.
Speaking during a handover ceremony of donations of sanitisers for schools from Onderstepoort Biological Products in Pretoria on Monday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the system had been operating fine and it was only now that they would start paying attention to where there was a need for additional teachers.
The minister also received sanitisers from Sasol Energy.
With grades R, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11 having returned on 24 August , Motshekga said the past week their focus had been on stabilising the system and getting pupils used to the new norm of attending on specific dates based on varying timetables.
She said timetabling for teachers had been another challenge, adding that she expected everything to go as planned by the end of the week.
Motshekga said the department now had a clear understanding of the teachers now working from home and schools no longer able to reopen.
“What we have said to unions, [is that] you employ when you have seen the need. So we only received [all] learners this week, we are timetabling differently.
“It is only after two weeks that the need will come out clearly, because we don’t want to go and overload the system and start employing,” the minister said.
Motshekga said because the department had no additional budget, it had to be cautious with employing additional teachers.
The department would select qualified teachers from a database if needed.
“We are still working out to say ‘if you are a teacher, you work from home, what does it mean’? So that even when we bring [in a] replacement, you do the preparations, you do the markings; the young people that we are bringing in… are going to work under your supervision, are going to do the following.”
Motshekga said the department informed National Treasury that they were unlikely to cope with their current budget and would require additional funds.