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The government cannot afford to hire enough substitute teachers to step in for the thousands of educators who have been given permission to stay at home on full pay because they are at risk of coronavirus complications, parliament heard on Tuesday.

The government has so far approved more than 20,000 of the 27,000 applications from older teachers and those with co-morbidities who had sought permission not to return to their schools when they reopen, according to basic education director-general Mathanzima Mweli. This represents just more than 5% of the 390,000 educators now employed in SA’s nearly 23,000 public schools...

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