COSATU supports SADTU’s call for government to reconsider the decision to reopen schools following a spike in the number of COVID 19 infections

The Congress of South African Trade Unions fully supports its affiliated trade union the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union( SADTU) in its call for the department of education to reconsider its decision to reopen schools following a spike in the number of COVID 19 infections in our schools.

The handling of the reopening of schools by the government to date has been anything but reassuring. Many rural and township schools are inadequately resourced to deal with the current crisis. This has led to many learners and teachers being forced to teach and learn under hazardous conditions. Schools are forced to close all over the place because of a spike in the rate of infections and this is not helping the learners.

The Federation calls on the Minister and her department to reflect and engage seriously with teachers’ unions and school governing bodies on how and when schools can be safely reopened. Intransigence and misguided bravado will not fix the problem of a rise in infection in many schools. The current environment is not conducive to teaching and learning.

We implore the government to be receptive to the ideas and objections of the education stakeholders if it wants to help the education system. We urge the minister and the DG to open a dialogue with teacher unions about how best to achieve the goal of safely reopening schools under the Covid-19 pandemic.

The reopening of schools should not be treated as a box-ticking exercise by overzealous bureaucrats. This is about providing young learners with an early childhood education system of good quality. This disorganised and hit-or-miss approach is robbing these young learners of a solid foundation in their formative years of education.

Our education system already reproduces inequalities based on class and race and this mismanagement of the reopening of schools will only perpetuate these inequalities.

Education in our country is by and large still dictated by the social and economic circumstances of learners and the communities they come from. The current situation disadvantages learners and teachers from poor communities compared to the more affluent communities and suburbs. If this area is not attended to, the suffering of the working class will be perpetuated.

We hope this issue can be resolved through dialogue, but we also want to remind the minister that the safety of our members and learners is non-negotiable. Teachers are selling their labour and not their lives.

Issued by COSATU 

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)

Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794