The South African Democratic Teachers Union in the Free State and the Congress of South African Students held a successful bilateral meeting on the 23rd June 2020 in Bloemfontein. The meeting took place during the increase of coronavirus that has recently engulfed our education sector resulting in many schools being forced to close on a daily basis. This has caused panic amongst the learners, teachers, officials and support staff with the stigmatisation of the pandemic being on an increase. Coronavirus has exposed the high levels of inequality in basic education in terms of infrastructure, LTSM, support staff and educators. During stage 5 & 4 of lockdown, the majority of learners who are mostly from the working class and the poor did not access the support that the department of education made available through technological methods.
Our meeting also took place during the Youth Month when COSAS has embarked on a programme of action to take the struggle of the youth of 1976 forward.
The two organisations, in their engagements, acknowledged the independence of the Congress of South African Students whilst recognising the critical role that SADTU has to play in ensuring COSAS remains relevant to the students’ struggle. SADTU commended COSAS in Free State for convening a successful conference that brought unity within the students’ organisation thereby bringing an end to the divided organisation across leadership preferences towards the provincial congress.
The meeting noted the unfortunate current situation at national level where the issues of COSAS are now before the courts for adjudication. We however remain optimistic that the matter will finally find conclusion and COSAS emerge stronger, wiser and united to be able to handle their issues internally moving forward.
The meeting extensively engaged on strengthening relationship between the two organisations in the province. In the engagements we were guided by the rich history of COSAS’ existence in pursuit of the students’ struggle and the role that SADTU has played in supporting COSAS. We further dwelled much on the current situation where coronavirus has presented a new normal in how the department has to reorganise itself to comply with Covid-19 regulations such as maintaining social distancing, screening and testing, washing of hands, sanitizing and most importantly provision and maintenance of a clean and healthy environment. Since the reopening of schools on the 8th June 2020 the two organisations have separately monitored the situation in schools and have observed progress and challenges experienced with some still prevalent moving towards phasing in of other grades. Some of the challenges have forced learners to remain at home whilst their counterparts in other schools that have good facilities are forging ahead with learning. It is on the basis of these plethora of challenges that the meeting resolved to have an urgent meeting with department of education to discuss the state of readiness towards accommodating other grades back to school.
As the two organisations we recommit to work together in our endeavour to ensure quality teaching and learning takes place in schools, free from racism, violence, drugs and sexual relationships between educators and learners. We will work together and lobby community members in our fight against gender based violence that is on increase in the province and country at large.
Mokholoane Moloi : Provincial Secretary : 0768112777
Kedibone Frank : Deputy Secretary : 0798863317
Tsietsi Mbolekwa : Provincial Secretary : 0733842500
Katlelo Mangojane : Provincial Chairperson: 0814299848