A special meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) has added its voice in urging South Africans to adhere to the call to abide by measures to stop the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The special meeting which took place at Kopanong Conference Centre in Benoni on Tuesday, 23 March 2020, just hours before the State President declared the 21-day lockdown, took a decision to close all union offices across the country from 24 March until 14 April 2020 in order to ensure social distancing.
It reiterated the President’s call for people to stay at home, adhere to high hygienic standards through the washing of hands with soap and sanitiser as adherence to these would stop the spread of infections while managing confirmed infections. The Special NEC agreed that the curve has to be flattened so that hospitals and other healthcare systems can manage the numbers. The Special NEC however raised concern over inadequate protective equipment for the health workers and the inability of manufacturers to meet the demands. It welcomed the regulations that have been passed to manage prices as the inflation of prices by capital was going to deny the poor access to basics such as masks, sanitizers, immune boosters, soaps and bleaches. It however raised concern over access to water which is a mitigating source, more especially by the poor and those in rural areas.
The special NEC also called on Government to ensure that when schools opened, proper infrastructure was installed in order to curb the spread of the virus. This should include proper infrastructure to minimise overcrowding, water and proper sanitation in schools.
Wage bill and salary increases.
The Special NEC was resolute that it would do all to ensure that Clause 3.3 of Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) Resolution of 2018 was implemented in full. In two meetings convened by the employer this year, the employer requested the review of the Resolution sighting that it could not afford to pay the last leg of the 2018 agreement. The Special NEC reiterated the fact that workers deserved the increase and the Union would not allow workers to be made scapegoats for the sins of people who looted the state coffers. The Union would do all in its power to ensure Government does not walk away from a signed agreement as this undermined Collective Agreement which was fought for.
The Special NEC agreed that it would continue to engage the employer on the next round of negotiations.
Comprehensive Sexuality Education
The Special NEC deliberated on the controversial Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) curriculum. The Special NEC noted that the CSE curriculum seeks to empower young people to build accurate understanding of their bodies, to make sense of their developmental stages, to grasp the concepts and content relating to their bodies and to develop healthy values, attitudes and behaviour when it comes to sexuality, identity and relationships.
The CSE caused a stir in 2019 when the Department of Basic Education announced it plans to strengthen the curriculum in line with international best practices. The Department of Basic Education developed Scripted Lesson Plans to strengthen the teaching of the subject in schools. During teaching and learning time, educators are guided by scripted lesson plans that empower them to discuss topics that could otherwise be found to be uncomfortable. These brought an outcry from parents and some conservative and religious organisation who accused the Department and the curriculum of sexualising the learners.
The meeting noted that sexuality education was not a new phenomenon in South African schools, as the country implemented sexuality education since the beginning of 2000. The Scripted Lesson Plans are being used in the pilot phase of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education in selected schools in five provinces.
Although teachers were not consulted on the introduction of the scripted lesson plans, the Department of Basic Education convened a meeting early this year to engage in a consultation process with all stakeholders in education to ensure their input was received and considered before finalising the curricula.
The Special NEC resolved that the Union should monitor the development of teaching materials in order to ensure they are age appropriate. Further, it would ensure that the union is represented in textbooks evaluation processes as they have not yet been finalised. The Department intends to roll-out the CSE to all provinces in 2021.
Election of new Vice President for Gender
The Special NEC elected Gauteng’s Deputy Secretary, Duduza Nkosi as the Union’s Vice President for Gender. Her election was in line with the SADTU’s 50/50 gender policy. Of the eight members of the Union’s National Working Committee, four are men and four are women. The position was previously occupied by Mpule Dorcus Sekabate.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi