KZN teacher crisis as 6 000 teachers don’t show up

empty school classroom

Nearly 6000 ’vulnerable’ KZN teachers apply to stay at home due to Covid-19 pandemic. File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has revealed that Kwa-Zulu Natal is experiencing a notable lack of teachers.

They fall into the group identified as vulnerable to Covid-19, either because of their age or for having comorbidities. This was disclosed in a written reply from parliament to questions asked by the DA.

The shortage has so much impact that the KZN Department of Education (DoE) has approached the Treasury department urgently for funding. They have asked that 4 000 new posts be created.

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The existing 2 020 substitute teachers will not be enough to fill the gaps and this will involve a cost of R974 million for a period of six months.

The number of teachers who have applied for concession are:

  • 522 in Amajuba
  • 288 in Uthukela
  • 348 in Umzinyathi
  • 1197 in Pinetown
  • 122 in Ilembe
  • 1242 in Umlazi
  • 392 in Ugu
  • 808 in Umgungundlovu
  • 112 in Harry Gwala
  • 240 in Umkhanyakude
  • 321 in King Cetshwayo
  • 378 in Zululand

These figures total 5 970 teachers. The total does not take into account any teachers who take sick leave, incapacity or maternity leave.


Teachers have already voiced concerns about how well learners will do at the end of the year. Concerns raised such as the shortage of time in which to prepare for exams and  the number of teachers who are unavailable.

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They are also concerned about an overloaded timetable and complications arising from the teacher replacement process.

About 284 teachers with no co-morbidities, but who are over the age of sixty have also applied for concessions. Moreover, there are also 1 400 teachers who are working from home, involved with preparing lessons and assessment development.

Teachers who have qualifications have taken over lessons and are substituting for those still at home. However, it will be problematic when more grades return.

“The current situation within the DoE does not bode well for our learners. Our Grade 12s have experienced a particularly difficult year and it is imperative that the DoE fulfils its side of the bargain.  

“There can be no substitute for both educators and learners being in classrooms. The DA urges Mshengu and the provincial Treasury to fast-track the process of ensuring that qualified substitute teachers are brought in. There is not another moment to waste,” says Dr Imran Keeke, DA Health Member of the Provincial Legislature.

KZN MEC for Education, Kwazi Mshengu said the situation is workable for now, while there are only permitted grades at school.

“We are equal to the task and this is a nationwide challenge. We have released a circular that explains the process to get teachers to assist where there are comorbidities,” said Mshengu.