Durban — Parents have raised a red flag after unpaid teachers did not turn up for work at private boarding school King Harvest Academy, near Highflats in KwaZulu-Natal.
Parents claim the teachers have not been paid for three months. The academy holds over 25 years of experience in the field of early childhood development and foundation phase education. The academy serves about 482 pupils from Grade 0 to12 in the communities of Ubuhlebezwe Municipality.
Parents complained that this was taking a toll on pupils, especially Grade 12s, who are writing trial exams. Concerned parent Bongani Gwala said no revisions or winter camps had been held to assist the pupils since January.
Gwala said the school had promised that teachers would be available from 6am to 6pm for Grade 12s.
“There are high chances that most of them will fail. There was a period when they were writing a physics paper, and the teacher was not present for almost three weeks. My child told me that there were chapters which were not completed,” Gwala said.
Gwala claimed that the principal, deputy principal and HOD informed her that the teachers had completed the curriculum.
“We asked why they were not revising. And no clear answers were provided,” said Gwala.
Nokuthula Hlophe, whose child is in Grade 11, said she was told that classes would go for days without teachers being present.
Hlophe said at first they thought the school was struggling with teachers’ absenteeism but found out that the teachers were not being paid.
Hlophe said they did not want to question the school, for fear their children could be victimised.
Hlophe was concerned about her child’s marks in her report because it was used to secure a space in a higher education institute.
“My child is demotivated. I had to make alternative arrangements. I had to ask the principal at another school for help on weekends,” said Hlophe.
A teacher, who did not want to be named, said the environment had become stressful because they had to combine classes.
“We are concerned because our colleagues are sitting at home after going months without getting paid. We work with constant fear that we might not get paid on time, short paid or not paid at all. We are already struggling with salary cuts of R2 000 since the arrival of Covid-19. We were promised backpay, however to this day none of us has received that,” she said. Another teacher said the school did not communicate with them.
School principal Rodney Stuart, dismissed the allegations, adding that teachers were not paid in August only.
Stuart said the school had difficulties in paying teachers based on the parents’ fees payments.
“We had some difficulties with collecting. We had a meeting with the staff, the department of labour and the department of education to inform them of our position.
“Some of the teachers left just before the exams started, but they left after they had completed their curriculum. We work very closely with the department and we have revision programmes run by the schools in our area, and the pupils have been attending these sessions. With regard to the revisions, they are mostly done before the exams start,” Stuart said.