SADTU FREE calls for adherence to Covid-19 Safety Protocols

29 April 2021

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union in the Free State province has noted, with concern, the recent increase in cases of people have who test positive of COVID-19. According to the latest statistics, Free State is identified amongst the three provinces that are leading in people who have tested positive. What is of more concern is that schools are the epi-centres as many learners and teachers have tested positive. The following towns were identified as the most affected: Qwaqwa, Ladybrand and Bloemfontein.

Whilst the cases are on an increase as the third wave of COVID-19 seems unavoidable because of the complacency amongst the teachers, learners and departmental officials, life is now regarded as secondary and curriculum delivery and recovery is being prioritised. As the Union we have lost members during the first and second waves and one life lost is one life too many; we cannot afford to have more orphans as the adults are at high risk due to various factors.

As the Union in the province we have embarked on a campaign referred to "Operation Letsema" to interact with members at school level where, amongst others, we advocate the importance of complying with COVID-19 regulations and protocols. Some of the complaints we received relate to the deviation from the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on COVID-19 where some schools have resorted to the normal operation by bringing all learners to schools, thereby compromising on social distancing. Some no longer follow the protocol when learners or teachers have tested positive.

With Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality and Bloemfontein in particular being one of the areas where the cases of COVID-19 are on an increase, the Union had a fruitful meeting with the DMT of Motheo District led by the District Director on the 28th April 2021 to raise the issues of COVID-19 and other matters that were raised during our visits to schools in Bloemfontein as follows:

  • Racism at some of the former Model C schools, Kruitberg and Louis Botha in particular. The meeting acknowledged the progress made by both the district and SADTU in uprooting the cancer of racism. At Louis Botha, the department is instituting disciplinary action against the educator accused of racism. The progress made was appreciated. However, there is a need to have a clear programme to address racism in schools for good. SADTU views racism as an attempt to take our province and country backward to the era of pain. It should be dealt with harshly.
  • On the transfer of educators, the meeting noted that there are many requests from educators from within the province and outside the borders of the province who want to relocate to Bloemfontein for various reasons (families, ill-health, further studies, etc) and further noted that not all requests can be accepted and this doesn't augur well with the affected individuals especially in the province. SADTU will however engage the district on issues of transfers as and when members raise them.
  • On filling of posts, the meeting noted the process that is currently underway where the union attends on observer status. In some processes, the Union has lodged disputes due to procedural flaws committed by resource persons and SGB members in the panels. The need for training of SGBs and resource persons should be prioritised and SADTU should be part, so resolved the meeting.
  • The meeting further noted the under-staffed labour section in the district and across the province. This has a bearing on teacher development in order to avert many cases of misconducts. The Union undertook to elevate the matter to the HOD for speedy advertisement of public servants posts in the province.
  • On the allegation of witchcraft against two educators in Botshabelo, the Union appreciated that the educators are not on suspension and advised that due processes of investigations should be exhausted and department should not rush to charge the affected educators. The district should educate the parents about legislation that govern such processes and not on public hype on this matter.

SADTU in Free State remains committed to the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) and will ensure that issues that affect her members will always find expression in the bargaining forum. The Union will continue to engage the department of education at various levels to ensure that unnecessary pressure is exerted on teachers and officials whilst acknowledging the importance of achieving quality results.

As SADTU we pledge our full support to all the DMTs and will continue with robust engagements with district directors through our regional structures.

We further call the Free State Department of Education to monitor that schools and offices comply with COVID-19 protocols.

ISSUED BY PROVINCIAL SECRETARIAT

Provincial Secretary: Moloi Mokholoane: 076 811 2777
Provincial Deputy Secretary: Frank Kedibone: 079 886 3317