Teachers in Eastern Cape are demanding that their colleagues on temporary contracts be made permanent.

Hundreds of teachers on temporary contracts in the Province were sacked in December and members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union demonstrated at the headquarters of the education department demanding their reinstatement.

Meanwhile the government is attempting to blame teachers absent on sickness leave for the crisis in teacher recruitment. This seems particularly cruel in a country which has been devastated by the AIDS epidemic which presumably has an impact on some teachers and their families – just as it does on people in every sector. Not only that but the stress of working in conditions which by Northern standards are very poor must add to the level of absence, which is cited by the minister as a reason that new permanent teaching posts cannot be created.