Joint Media Statement by Teachers Unions on the Media Statement by the Minister of Basic Education on the Resumption of duty in the Basic Education

31 May 2020

The Minister of Basic Education today, 31 May 2020, released a statement on resumption of duty in the Basic Education Sector. The statement was released a@er an outcry by the Teacher Unions and Governing Body Associations joined by the public for the Minister to provide leadership.

The Teacher Unions and Governing Body Associations met with the CEM yesterday the 30th May and were promised to receive feedback before the press briefing which was scheduled for 16:00 on the 31st May 2020. The response never came through until the statement which was released after two cancellations of the media briefing and despite an undertaking in the meeting by the Minister on behalf of the CEM.

The Minister acknowledged that the system was not ready and that as a collective we would meet on Thursday, 11th June for further assessment. The Teacher Unions were vindicated by the independent monitoring Consortium led by the NECT that the system wasn’t ready for the reopening of the schools for the learners in Grades 7 and 12 for the 1st June 2020.

The Minister asked for 8me to consult her colleagues in the Cabinet on the issue of the 1st June given the information from the independent Consortium and the Unions and committed to respond on the 31st May 2020 which she did not honour. This is a betrayal of trust and does not bode well for the credibility of the education system.

We want to put on record that the date of the 8th June was never mentioned in the meeting because the focus was readying the system and ensuring that all the provinces comply with the twelve non-negotiables.

The astounding confusion caused by the statement must be condemned because the Department of Basic Education is obsessed with dates and ignoring the evidence of provincial readiness. The lack of appreciation for evidence can only be characterized as irresponsible and negligent.

Our position as the Teacher Unions remains:

As a collective we wish to highlight our rejec8on of a staggered opening of schools for our children.

No school must be left behind, especially not because of incompetence and tardiness. Given the historical injustices of the past it is obvious which schools will be le@ behind should a staggered approach to schools reopening be followed. This we cannot allow no matter the jusification.

The attitude of the Western Cape to define itself outside the collective must not be allowed. South Africa is one country and their insistence to go it alone undermines the unitary nature of our education system. We are not only going to scrutinize but challenge their motive.

This is 8me to show solidarity with the plight of other provinces and indeed, sympathy with the plight of thousands of our teachers and children across the na8on.

The schools across the country must prioritize the training of the teachers on the amended curriculum and allow the teachers the professional autonomy to help the learners as and when they finally return to schools.

Where the schools have not complied with the health and safety regulations, please be advise not to report for duty un8l there is compliance. This is also published in the regulations by the Minister.

Over and above the curriculum, teachers also need 8me to be trained on how to operate in the COVID-19 environment. With so many teachers not returning to schools last week, this essential training is seriously lacking.

We therefore advise all schools, even those that might be ready to re-open, having received all the necessary materials for teachers and learners, not to re-open for learners un8l the non-negotiables have been delivered to all schools and to inform their learners accordingly. To further contribute to disparities between schools would be irresponsible.

We call on the Minister to meet the Teacher Unions and Governing Body Associations on Thursday, 11th for genuine assessment and engagement about the readiness of the system.

Parents, learners, teachers and education workers can be assured that we all wish schooling to resume as soon as possible, but not at the expense of their health and safety.

Issued by the following unions:

NAPTOSA: The Execu8ve Director, Basil Manuel - 0795086228

PEU: The General Secretary, Ben Machipi - 0795151165

NATU: The President, Alan Tomson- 0736078141

SADTU: The General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke - 0827832968

SAOU: The Execu8ve Director, Chris Klopper – 0837087733