Motshekga meets unions on state of readiness to resume schooling

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga is meeting with teachers' unions on Saturday to discuss the readiness to resume schooling.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga is meeting with teachers' unions on Saturday to discuss the readiness to resume schooling.
Image: GCIS

Teacher unions are meeting with basic education minister Angie Motshekga on Saturday afternoon to discuss the state of readiness for the resumption of schooling.

The meeting comes as eight of the nine provinces, the exception being Gauteng, issued statements asking school management teams (SMTs) not to report for duty on Monday.

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) has advised school management teams (SMTs) not to report for duty on Monday until education authorities comply with all health and safety measures at schools.

Naptosa’s executive director Basil Manuel said in a statement that the union was “not prepared to gamble with the lives of our members”.

SMTs were advised to await confirmation from Motshekga or the department before returning to school.

SMTs were scheduled to report to schools on Monday and teachers on May 18.

Manuel said that Naptosa has consistently indicated that there can be no return to school for SMTs, teachers, education support personnel or pupils “if the  non-negotiables have not been complied with”.

“We have also said that there needs to be a public declaration by the minister and MECs that the non-negotiables are in place before any educator or education support personnel member is to set foot in a school.”

Said Manuel: “If the department believes that by remaining mum on the subject the situation will resolve itself, they are sadly mistaken.”

“Face masks have apparently not been procured, whilst screeners and testers have not been contracted.”

Manuel said that they had also requested direction from the department on educators and education support personnel who are 60 years and older, as well as those with proven comorbidities.

“It is generally acknowledged by health experts that these persons are at greater risk than the rest of the population. Before sending members, who fall into these categories, into the firing line, it is essential that the department expresses a view on their position.”

He said that “sadly, also on this matter there has been no direction from the department”.

“So, until the department has issued an official direction in this regard, our members who meet the above-mentioned criteria are not to return to school, even if the measures are in place for the safe return of SMTs to school.”

On Friday night, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said it would not allow any of its  members to report for duty on Monday because the department of basic education “has failed to meet the minimum requirements to ensure safety as per Covid-19 alert level 4".

“The personal protective equipment (PPEs) has not been procured for office- based personnel, educators and education support personnel. The disinfecting of schools and offices has not even reached 25%. It is unlawful to expect workers to report for duty when their safety is not guaranteed.”

Sadtu's secretariat said that PPEs must be provided by the employer in workplaces and that screening must take place on a daily basis and in places where workers and pupils  were denied water and sanitation.

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