Simply put, the Department of Basic Education has no capacity to employ new teachers in South Africa.
This concession was made by the DBE on Thursday in its dispute about an article published in Businesstech.co.za reporting a shortage of 24,000 teachers.
The department said that the reporter misunderstood Minister Angie Motshekga’s reply to a parliamentary question about the vacancy rate in the basic education sector.
“Universities produce an estimated total of 25,000 teachers a year who are not able to get employment in the system due to a lack of capacity to absorb all of them,” the department said.
“This means there are more teachers in the country than the system can accommodate. The reported shortage is therefore inaccurate and misleading.”
During a parliamentary question and answer session, DA MP Chantel King asked the Minister, among other things, about the national vacancy rate of teachers in the country and the total breakdown of the number of posts vacant in each province.
In her reply, Motshekga said the vacancy rate was 5.8% as at the end of February 2021 and is in terms of the actual vacancies at schools in relation to posts that each school was allocated for 2021.
Motshekga said provincial education departments are redeploying educators, additional to the allocated post establishments at some schools, to schools that have vacancies.
“Once this process has been finalised and the residual vacant posts have been filled through the appointment of educators from outside the system, the actual number of vacancies will be lower than the current rate,” Motshekga said.
She also presented a table with a written response, which showed a total of 24,556 vacant posts.
However, the department said this does not mean there is an actual shortage of teachers, nor does it mean learners are being left unattended.
“It simply means the process of finalising the appointment of the people in the posts is ongoing,” the department noted.