Few - if indeed anyone - would want to see the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) carry out its threat of salary-related mass protest action.
A disruption in national schooling will certainly cause inestimable damage from which our learning institutions might not recover. Past experience has shown that schools have battled without much success to recover ground lost because of strike action by teachers.
Sadtu rightly says the government's offer of between fourpercent and slightly more than fivepercent is nowhere near the union's 12percent demand, and that the offer is way below the inflation rate.
Further negotiations should remain a viable option. Mass action from thousands of disgruntled teachers should be the last resort after all dispute-resolving mechanisms have been exhausted.
Education Minister Naledi Pandor's intervention is therefore necessary to resolve the impasse.
Pandor's misgivings about Sadtu's tactics are valid. She has expressed disappointment at Sadtu's having "found it necessary to use the media to request a meeting with her".
Both the government and the union should be implored to put the interests of our children's education first by engaging each other in good faith.