St Francis teachers demand better salaries

Disgruntled teachers of St Francis Adult Learning Centre.

Gugulethu-based St Francis Adult Learning Centre lecturers are demanding better salaries and improved working conditions.

The lecturers teach basic education to adult learners and youth. Speaking to media at the school, the lecturers said they’ve brought their case to the departments of Basic Education and Higher Education, Science and Technology last year but nothing has happened.

Lecturer Dalikhaya Mxatule said the two departments of education were dragging their feet to pay them proper salaries and equal to other centres in the province.

He said this had killed teachers passion for teaching and demoralised them.

“We are underpaid as compared to other centres. As if that is not enough, our salaries here are different. At some point we approached the education department and they promised to come in July of this year to investigate this,” he said.

“But they came in August instead and told us we owe them because they overpaid us at some point”. He said it was disappointing to be called a lecturer while being paid “peanuts”. And that they had decided to stop lecturing until the situation was sorted out. “Our student numbers were soaring year after year but now we have 120.

“The situation has also affected them. You must remember we are lecturing those who are drop-outs, ex-convicts and adults. They are affected and they ended up giving up too,” he said.

Another lecturer, Nobesuthu Yibana, said they were expected to continue with teaching while the department refused to give them specific answers about when their salaries would be adjusted.

“We are demoralised and depressed. We are on a go-slow. We have lost the passion for teaching,” she said.

Ms Yibana said the department was taking them for granted and that it was upsetting that government continued to hire teachers with high salaries at other centres.

Asked what they would do now, she said they have decided to withhold the results of the students. “Because they are treating us like nothing.

“We will not submit moderation papers so that they cannot give the students’ results.

Another problem is that we are losing good teachers who are patient and passionate about the job,” she said.

Vukani tried to get a hold of Spencer Tonkin, education spokesman and college principal, but his office number was not answered and he did not respond to an email we sent. Vukani will publish comment from the department and Mr Tonkin when we receive it.