The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) today marks the 16th of May, World Education Support Personnel Day.

The day was created and launched in 2018 by the Education International (EI) – a global teacher and education workers union federation which has more than 32 million members worldwide to honour Education Support Personnel (ESP) for the role they play in ensuring the effective functioning of education institutions.

ESPs are non-teaching staff who work in education institutions and administrative offices to provide support which, at the end of the day, contributes towards ensuring the delivery of quality education. Without the ESP’s no effective education can take place. They included, among others, administrators, cleaners, security personnel, teaching assistants, occupational therapists, food handlers who prepare and serve meals to learners, handyman, technicians, librarians, career guidance counsellors, etc.

Notwithstanding the crucial role they play in the smooth functioning of a education institution and administrative offices, most ESP’s do not enjoy the full recognition and rights as workers as most are employed on a casual, part-time, or contractual basis. They are overworked and underpaid.

As we celebrate this day, SADTU is calling our government to invest more in ESPs and in public education. We call for the rights of ESPs, as workers, to be recognised and their status enhanced as outlined in the Education International’s Declaration on the Rights and Status of Education Support Personnel.

The Declaration calls for, among others, the following:

·       The status, rights and working conditions of ESP must be protected against the negative effects of privatisation and commercialisation.

·       ESP have a right to decent work and quality in terms of employment. They must have fair and equitable benefits, earning at least a living wage

·       ESP have a right to be safe at work and not suffer harassment, abuse, or violence in the workplace. Workplace health and safety must be guaranteed

·       ESP have a right to organise and join trade unions and organisations.

SADTU is currently working closely with the Labour Research Services (LRS) in finding ways to assist food handlers who prepare meals in schools. Food handlers are classified as volunteers and paid a stipend.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT: General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

                    Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

                    Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566

                    Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157