23 February 2022
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) – the biggest union in the education and public services sector – want Finance Minister Gondongwana’s first budget speech to prioritise education.
Last year, SADTU called for a stimulus package for education to ensure that education was equitable and accessible to all and provide long-overdue infrastructure in our schools. We again reiterate this call because the situation remains the same, if not, worse.
The country’s education system was severely affected by the COVID–19 pandemic. Schools had to close in the first few months of the pandemic and later, learners went back on a rotational basis. This robbed many learners of valuable learning and teaching time. However, those in affluent schools managed to continue with their education through remote and blended learning. The pandemic served to further expose the inequalities that exist in education.
Even when schools had to go back, many could not return on time as some could not meet the Covid – 19 safety requirements such as providing water and proper sanitation. Some schools have not met the requirements as they are still not connected to main water supplies.
When schools were allowed to return all learners to school due to the easing of COVID-19 safety regulations this year many have gone back to same pre-COVID-19 conditions: overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated infrastructure, shortage of teachers, lack of proper ablution facilities, inadequate scholar transport.
We have learners still sitting at home and not accessing their right to education because they are not placed due to classroom shortages.
Teachers have gone back to teaching overcrowded classrooms as fewer classes have been built. Instead, in the first year of COVID-19, government cut from the school infrastructure grant which was meant to build schools and used the money to cover COVID-19 costs.
Safety and security in our schools should be prioritized. Vandalism in schools and violence against teachers is a concern. Our schools are not properly secured. We need a budget to address security in schools.
The number of educators employed is not enough to cope with the learners who have gone back to school. Vacancies need to be filled and posts established. Educators are battling to cope with the increasing workload teaching overcrowded classrooms.
Investing in education will have a positive effect in the country’s economy in the long run as it will enable many to have skills that will contribute to boosting the economy.
Educators and all public servants have had to endure the pandemic with increases in their salaries far below expectations as government reneged from honouring the last leg of Collective Agreement 1 of 2018. We hope the budget will commit to ensuring that collective bargaining is respected.
We call for the vaccination of the five to eleven years old as well.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157