'Children could be back in class already'

Thozi Manyisana

Thozi Manyisana

The Eastern Cape education department has been castigated for being too "busy" to meet teachers' unions.

This is to discuss plans to recover the time lost by pupils during the civil servants' strike.

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union general-secretary in the Eastern Cape, Mxolisi Dimaza, told Sowetan yesterday that the department and the unions had still not met to discuss a plan to recover lost teaching time.

But, department spokesman Loyiso Pulumani defended the department, saying it intended to meet with representatives from the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa today.

Pulumani said the department "regarded it as critical that we consult teachers and lobby for their buy-in to the department's draft strategy".

Dimaza said that if the department had met with unions earlier, classes would have already commenced, as was the case in KwaZulu-Natal.

Pulumani said the department's plan did not entail cutting into the holidays.

"Our province has not gone the radical route of shortening the holidays but we plan to have extra classes," he said.

"That will be as good as returning early to the schools."

He said the extra classes would include incorporating weekend classes and the September holiday period, but this measure would be subject to the "buy-in" by the teachers' unions.

He was adamant that the school time lost would be recovered and said there were "winter classes that were going on as scheduled in many districts".