Teachers' union Sadtu demands shutdown from today

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke says teachers must be allowed to leave schools from today, due to fears of coronavirus contagion.
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke says teachers must be allowed to leave schools from today, due to fears of coronavirus contagion.
Image: Robert Tshabalala

The country's largest teacher union, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu), has demanded that provincial education departments allow teachers to go on leave from 11am today instead of on Friday.

In a statement, Sadtu's general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, slammed the heads of provincial education departments for issuing circulars instructing teachers to remain at schools until Friday.

He said President Cyril Ramaphosa had pronounced that schools should close today.

''The confusion caused by the provincial circulars that schools close on March 20 is unacceptable. These circulars are insensitive and inconsiderate.''

He said Sadtu was not consulted on this critical issue, ''which deals with the health of workers in those schools''.

'The HODs [head of departments] cannot overturn or vary the pronouncement by the president. The teachers and education support personnel in schools aren't immune to the virus.''

He said the HODs expect the same teachers to conduct extra classes ''which they always do but don't care about their health”.

Maluleke demanded that the provincial education departments withdraw the circulars ''which undermine the president'', and allow schools to close at 11am today.

In a circular to schools, the Gauteng education department said teachers will remain at schools until Friday to ''finalise all outstanding administrative work''.

Members of schools' senior management teams have been requested to provide pupils and parents with guidelines of curriculum topics, content and activities to be undertaken at home to make up for lost teaching time.

Activities will include the promotion of reading in support of the national campaign.

Schools were expected to provide learner material for reading and self-study, workbooks, textbooks and readers for use at home.

''This should include worksheets, tasks, projects and exercises,'' according to the circular.

The Western Cape education department also instructed teachers to remain at schools until Friday ''to ensure that all administrative and other tasks are completed''.

Western Cape's superintendent-general of education, Brian Schreuder, said in a circular that the arrangements were confirmed during a teleconference of all education MECs and heads of department with basic education minister, Angie Motshekga, on Monday morning.

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