SADTU Media Statement on World Education Support Personnel Day

16 May 2022

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) today celebrates World Education Support Personnel (ESP) Day. The day was created and launched in 2018 by Education International (EI) - a global teacher and education workers union federation with more than thirty-two million members worldwide and SADTU and is one of her affiliates.

On this day, SADTU pays tribute to thousands of education support personnel for the role they play in the education sector. They may not be in front of the learner in class but are critical to the effective functioning of a school and delivery of quality public education. They include, among others, teaching assistants, those who cook and prepare meals for learners as part of the school nutrition programme, security personnel who ensure schools are safe, administration staff, school librarians, occupational therapists, general assistants, and groundsmen who keep schools clean.

We welcome the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative which has seen thousands of young people employed in schools as education assistants. They have lessened the administrative burden from teachers and assisted in the management of overcrowded classrooms. However, their employment status is not secured as they are employed on a temporary basis. We therefore call on the Department of Basic Education to provide full-time employment to education assistants.
We call on the government to do the same for all ESPs. Many are employed by School Governing Bodies on temporary and contractual basis; they are overworked and underpaid. They are not given quality training and career development. The role of ESPs is not negligible but critical in the delivery of quality public education, they should therefore not be treated as a stop-gap measure but a critical component in our education system and are therefore entitled to proper benefits as workers.

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