The basic education department is being dragged before court again, this time over the embattled Eastern Cape education department's failure to fully fill the 64 752 teaching posts it budgeted for in the province.
The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) on Thursday last week filed an urgent application at the high court in Grahamstown in a bid to compel the four respondents in the case – including Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and acting Eastern Cape education department head Mthunywa Ngonzo – to fully implement the 2012 plan to fill the posts.
The other two respondents are the director-general in the department of basic education, Bobby Soobrayan, and the Eastern Cape's minister for education, Mandla Makupula.
The application deals with "the failure of the respondents to implement the 2012 educator post establishment in the Eastern Cape, the consequent failure to appoint teachers to vacant substantive posts and the failure to appoint temporary teachers to these posts pending the implementation of the 2012 post establishment".
The regional director of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) in Grahamstown, Sarah Sephton, said there were "thousands of vacant teaching posts in the province and also thousands of teachers in excess at schools".
"Nobody in the department has bothered to ensure that all pupils have teachers in front of them," she said.
The lawsuit would hopefully ensure that "teachers will be appointed to posts permanently so there will be no chaos of temporary appointments every year and hopefully there will be adequate preparation for next year so teachers will be in front of pupils from the day schools open," she said.
In March last year Motshekga implemented the Constitution's section 100 1(b) and placed the province's education department under administration, in an attempt to address the chaos that has left schools without textbooks and stationery, and scuttled scholar transport programmes amid allegations of wider corruption in management, among other serious problems.
The LRC is representing six applicants including the Centre for Child Law, the school governing bodies of four Eastern Cape schools and a crisis committee based in Port Elizabeth – comprising of two principals, six parents, and two teachers – which represents 17 schools from the city's northern areas.
According to the founding affidavit by Ann Marie Skelton, director of the Centre for Child Law, "the Eastern Cape department's failure to implement the 2012 post establishment plan has led to many schools being placed in a situation of crisis and financial peril".
"The individual schools have taken steps to fill substantive vacant teacher posts at their own expense, or relying on emergency donations from parents, while some have had to rely on substitute teachers and volunteer teaching to teach certain grades," it said.
"Some of the individual schools are unable to pay additional teachers," it said. "And as such many pupils are wholly without a teacher and have not received tuition his year."
The application is asking that the the 2013 educator post establishment be declared by 30 September 2012 and implemented in full by 30 December 2012, and that this include non-teaching staff.
Sephton said the respondents would need to file their notice to oppose or not to oppose by the end of Friday, and that answering affidavits would need to be filed by the end of next Friday.
The department did not respond to requests for comment.