Limpopo is facing yet another challenge in the education sector because of its ageing teacher population, which may lead to the non-availability of educators in the province.
The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Department of Education could not hire young teacher graduates due to dire financial constraints.
This was revealed by Education MEC Polly Boshielo at the announcement of the provincial matric results in Polokwane on Wednesday.
“We were told by the Minister of Finance (Tito Mboweni) to cut our budget by 5%, which translates to R1.7 billion (of the total annual budget). This means that we have to cut on human personnel,” Boshielo said.
She said the majority of the teachers at the more than 3 000 schools in the province were over 50 years.
She also indicated that there were only two principals in the whole province who are aged between 24 and 29 years, and only five between the ages of 30 and 35.
Announcing the results, Boshielo was at pains to justify the last position of the province in the 2019 matric results.
Boshielo believes the percentages that are used to rank each of the nine provinces are not a true reflection of the performance by pupils.
She further believes that Limpopo performed well compared to other provinces because it had a large number of candidates and had produced a large number of bachelors and diploma passes. The province boasted nine of the 30 top-performing pupils nationally.
Limpopo registered 93 932 candidates for the 2019 matric exams, but 70 847 wrote all seven papers. The province recorded a 73.2% pass rate with 19 022 bachelors, 18 558 diplomas and 14 270 higher certificates.
The number of schools that obtained a 0% pass rate increased from three in 2018 to nine in 2019.
“We should be proud of ourselves,” Boshielo told the hundreds of guests at the ceremony.
However, DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle remained worried about the number of pupils who have been “culled”.
In a statement, Smalle said: “It has become a trend for provinces to cull learners by wanting to improve their results. We call on the MEC to investigate this practice in Limpopo and to condemn this.”