Maths and Science teacher shortage a challenge in the Eastern Cape

A Grade 12 pupil explains a mathematical equation to fellow learners. Photo by Chris Gilili

The Eastern Cape fared poorly in the 2017 matric results and the lack of especially mathematics teachers is cited as one of the reasons. Only 42% of the province’s pupils who wrote pure maths passed the subject.

King William's Town, South Africa

As has become a norm in recent years, the Eastern Cape Province was at the bottom of all provinces in the  matric results. The province achieved a 65.8% pass average, just a 1.5% increase from the 2016 results. At the root of this poor performance, lies the shortage of teachers.

An education advocacy group, Equal Education (EE) holds the view that solving these issues is something that is still up to the Department of Education especially with proper budget management. According to EE’s Ntuthuzo Ndzomo, the provincial department has failed  several times to address the current concerns in the province. Over the past three years, EE has identified challenges in Eastern Cape schools, some of which include infrastructure, scholar transport and the non-delivery of textbooks.

“Last year, the learners marched to voice their concerns with the department, but the MEC didn’t respond or address any of those. We even went as far as having night vigils at the departmental buildings in King Williams Town, but you still find schools with no Maths and Science teachers today,” said Ndzomo.

There are two schools in the Eastern Cape that are known to have no Maths teachers. In Umzuvukile High School in Mooiplaas, Sotho Village there is no Grade 8 Maths teacher. At Sheshegu High School in Alice, there are no Mathematics teachers at all.

When Elitsha spoke to the principal at Umzuvukile, Ncedo Mfana, about the absent teacher he said finding the teacher is not their duty. “I believe the responsibility lies with the Department of Education to find a teacher for us. This has been the case for two years – no one is responsible for teaching Maths at Grade 8,” said Mfana.

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When speaking to Malibongwe Mtima, the spokesperson of the Eastern Cape Department of Education, he said the department is aware of the situation at both these schools.

“In Sheshegu, the issue of no Maths teachers has been brought to our attention and we are working hard to make sure that this is addressed as soon as possible. One of our main challenges is that we advertised these posts but you find that people have no interest in applying for them,” said Mtima.

Mavo Solomon, an ex-engineer, has made it his mission to go around teaching Mathematics in former disadvantaged areas around the Eastern Cape. He travels between Queenstown, East London and Port Elizabeth fostering future engineers, one learner at a time. He does all this from his heart, with financial assistance from friends, corporates and private donors.”

Solomon believes the lack of adequate resources in especially rural schools is one of the biggest problems facing education in the Eastern Cape. As a result, Solomon argues, learners have no interest in the culture of learning in general.

Recently he has created a Whatsapp group with the aim of having learners from Grade 10 to 12 discuss their challenges in Maths among themselves. They have, however, lacked interest even in that, laments Solomon.

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About Chris Gilili 26 Articles
Chris Gilili, a 23 year old freelance journalist based in East London. Graduated from Walter Sisulu University media studies school in 2015. Had a stint with Independent Media, in sports writing. Passionate about news and the media.