Media reports on holidays for teachers are misleading

It is with great regret that we note media reports suggesting that the Union is demanding an extension of the holidays allocated to teachers. The story on SADTU’s “demand” is an extreme exaggeration and distortion as it seeks to sensationalize what the General Secretary of SADTU Mugwena Maluleke said, at SADTU’s KZN Congress, in order to dent the image of SADTU and  create an impression that we are a self centered union and want to spend as less time as possible in class.

To put the record straight, the General Secretary never called for more or longer holidays.

The articles have failed to take into account the context in which this was said. The General Secretary was highlighting the systematic challenges faced by the Department which are detrimental to the quality of education – one of which is the work load for teachers. It is a well known fact that teachers particularly in public schools are exposed to a high workload directly attributable to an unfavorable teacher/learner ratio and the failure of the department to allocate teacher support services staff . As a result, teachers have to work on holidays and weekends. We are probably one of few countries that have resorted to almost daily early morning and late afternoon classes to compensate on normal school hours and increase learner contact time. These leave teachers with little or no time for their families leading to fatigue, demoralization and underperforming.

Teachers from mainly public schools spend most of their holidays marking exam scripts because learners write until the last day of school and therefore spend holidays marking, writing reports and doing administration work. In former Model C schools, they have administration staff and the necessary resources to do the work.

Although the department extended the hours, this has not led to higher pass rates. Instead we see teachers succumbing to stress and fatigue and opting to exit the system prematurely due to burn out.

The solution to this would be to employ more support staff to do administrative work such as writing reports, consolidating marks, overseeing admissions so that teachers can focus on their core function which is teaching.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat