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MBABANE – The Minister of Public Service, Mabulala Maseko, says government has budgeted E65 million for hiring 1 000 permanent teachers.

The minister said in the year under review, 1 000 teachers were also confirmed into permanent positions, with benefits. The minister was speaking yesterday during the fact-finding mission exercise conducted in schools around the country. During the tour, Maseko was with the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy, Prince Lonkhokhela and Ministry of Education and Training Under Secretary, Schools Manager Lungelo Nhlengetfwa, as well as the schools’ inspectorate department. During the tour, the head teachers lamented the shortage of teachers in their schools. The head teachers added that having a huge number of contract teachers in the schooling system was another hindrance to performance. All four schools that were visited by the ministers had contract teachers and some of them were among those whose contracts expired last year in December.

Mater Dolorosa (MDS) High School Head teacher Fikile Ndlovu, stated that some of the teachers had been on contract for over 10 years. She said during the start of a new school calendar, some teachers did not return to school until government renewed their contracts. Ndlovu said the learners suffered during that process. “Teachers have sent me to plead on their behalf on two issues. The first one is the signing of contracts. The second issue is salary review. They say they are struggling to make ends meet,because the money they are paid does not meet their needs,” she said. The head teacher mentioned that she had eight temporary teachers. She also mentioned that two of the teachers took an early retirement and went to work in the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Ndlovu was not the only head teacher who lamented about the shortage of teachers. MDS Primary School Head teacher Thabo Nkambule said he had four teaching vacancies.  In response, Maseko said government was working on converting more teachers who were on contracts to permanent employment. He highlighted that the first step was to confirm teachers who were occupying permanent positions. He said the next step was to ensure that more teachers were permanent, with benefits. He said the ministry understood the need to ensure that teachers were hired permanently, so that their lives could go on. He explained that this would also help the learners, because the teacher would be motivated. Maseko said in the next financial year, 1 000 more teachers would be given permanent posts and E65 million had been budgeted for that exercise.

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