The words this week were: choice, redundancy, unexpected, email, discipline.
( I lived most of my life in South Africa, 1952-2009)
1993, the teacher’s council could announce me redundant.
It was the year when my world was entirely out of my control by circumstances
My husband committed suicide on August 18, which altered my whole way of life. I was on my own with a twelve-year-old son. In October that year, I had a breakdown and was hospitalized for two weeks. I went back to school. Teaching was complicated for me. I managed a calm face, but inside I was broken. Looking into the faces of those young people kept me thinking back to how tough some of their home life could be, knowing first-hand from my experience.
That year, the Education Department lessened teacher numbers and crowded up classes with more pupils. The high school in Secunda, where I taught, likewise had to make two teachers redundant. When choosing the one to go, they looked at the latest appointed teachers and also the subject. The next group was teachers with thirty or more years of teaching behind them. The enveloped darkness in my head ended.
There was a first-year teacher who had to leave. I felt sorry for her. I visited the dean and made a recommendation.
“I am happy to be made redundant. I have been teaching for thirty years. Can’t you put Sally in my English position and make me redundant?”
Long story brief, at first, the principal wasn’t content to let me leave. Sally wasn’t an English educator. In the end, after some phone calls to the education office, my principal arranged for me to be called redundant. The change helped me, the new teacher and the principal too.
The best of this agreement was that I got an extra five years of teaching practice on top of my thirty years. They determined my pension for thirty-five years. I moved out of Secunda and started a new life.
The second occasion I was declared redundant was in 2004.
I commenced employment in the Potgietersrus local library in 1996. I got promoted to senior in 1998. Then affirmative action hit our library. We were three qualified white women, five black women and one qualified black male (who made working in the library hard on us as three white women)
At the closure of 2003, the Potgietersrus Council discussed taking senior positions away from the one senior assistant and me. They wished to place the persons disadvantaged in the past, into the senior assistant’s posts. These individuals had no qualifications or any background in senior work. They named me to switch back to an assistant position because I worked there not as long as the other senior woman – no dilemma for me. In the meantime, I applied for a teaching position at an adjacent private school in Potgietersrus. I went for the interview, and the dean assigned me, and I yet had to confirm the position. The Council spoke about turning my salary back to the assistant pay the same week as my interview. I saw red when I learned that. All was well with demoting me, but taking away my senior income for no reason was the last straw. It all took place on Thursday. Friday, I went to work and handed in my notice. Twenty-four-hour notice and that was it. My supervisor and the council representative tried to entice me to stay with no success.
I called the administrator at the school, and I commenced teaching again after serving eight years in the library, on the coming Monday. I carried on teaching until the end of February 2009. My principal didn’t want me to go, but I informed him that I’m all packed and off to New Zealand. Nothing was going to hold me in South Africa.