SA: 400 Zim maths and science teachers barred at border; main opposition party appeals for their return

SA: 400 Zim maths and science teachers barred at border; main opposition party appeals for their return

By The Citizen

SOUTH AFRICA: The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo has called on Limpopo MEC for Education, Polly Boshielo, to engage her national Home Affairs counterpart Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to allow about 400 gateway subject teachers working in Limpopo to enter the country, The Citizen reports.

The party says their concerns stem from a recent education portfolio committee meeting last week where it was revealed that the province has about 400 gateway subject teachers, mostly from Zimbabwe, that cannot enter the province to teach through the border due to travel restrictions and Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Gateway subjects refer to subjects such mathematics, physical science, economics, agricultural sciences, geography and accounting, which are considered critical for the country’s development and economic growth.

DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle said the subjects were critical for entrance into higher education programmes that will offer greater availability of job opportunities.

“The failure of these gateway subject teachers to enter the country and resume work will have an extremely negative effect on the preparation of learners for their final exams and their chances to achieve good marks for admission into institutions of higher learning. The impact of the failure of these teachers to resume work is further compounded by the fact that almost half the school year has been lost due to Covid-19,” said Smalle.

“In the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams Limpopo had lower percentages than the national averages of learners that achieved 30% and above in all eleven of the gateway subjects. It is evident that the province cannot afford to carry on without these teachers,” he added.

Smalle said these gateway teachers should be allowed to enter the country as a matter of urgency, given their immense contribution to the education of learners in the province and the high demand for their skills.

He said the impact of Covid-19 on the schooling year should see gateway subject teachers being viewed as critical skills and they should be allowed to enter the country, provided that they have valid work permits and have undergone the necessary screening processes.

“The DA is committed to ensuring that the learners in Limpopo receive a quality education and are not left behind in the current academic year. We will continue to monitor the developments around this matter.”

Attempts to solicit comment from the MEC were not successful as she was locked up in a meeting, but Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha told the Limpopo provincial command council all grades in the province were hard at work with teachers teaching and learners working against the clock in line with the differentiated timetable model individual schools have opted for.

“Some of a few concerns registered by the department was absenteeism from classes due to several reasons that included fear of Covid -19 infection, anxiety and other health conditions. Gender-based violence has also been raised as one common denominator within communities where schools are based,” he added.

The gateway subject teachers matter was not raised in the meeting.