16 October 2020
The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) has noted the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan presented by President Cyril Ramaphosa that responds to the economic impact of COVID 19 by driving, among others, job creation.
As a union in the education sector, SADTU welcomes the creation of 300 000 opportunities for young people to be engaged as school assistants at schools throughout the country.
SADTU has, for quite some time, been calling for the provision of assistants at schools as teachers are overburdened with administrative duties, more especially in rural and township schools where parents cannot afford to hire such.
The provision of these assistants will enable teachers to focus on their core duties, which is to teach. As we welcome this move, we are going to guard against these assistants being used as teachers in classrooms. Their job, in the main, must be to support the teachers and learners and not to teach because they are not qualified.
We do not want to see the assistants being used to de-professionalise the teaching profession and we hope the South African Council for Educators (SACE will play her critical role to protect the profession. We also call on the department to follow proper vetting processes when employing these assistants as we do not want to see pedophiles in our schools.
We call on the government to continue to employ properly qualified teachers as the sector still needs more. The advent of COVID 19 has amplified the need for more teachers as class sizes have had to be reduced in order to ensure social distancing.
We welcome the securing of 40 000 teaching posts in schools that lost income from fees during COVID 19. This will create security for the many teachers who were paid by parents through School Governing Bodies. We also note the support which is going to be provided to more than 100 000 early childhood development practitioners. However, we seek clarity on the kind of support that will be provided. Currently, Early Childhood Development (ECD) practitioners are treated as poor cousins in the teaching profession as they do not receive the same benefits as teachers. The ECD sector has a critical and fundamental role in the development of a child and it therefore does not need subsidies but proper funding
This also puts into perspective our call for increased investment in some of the critical inputs in the education value chain such as educational and adequate security infrastructure and continuous professional development opportunities for education workers.
We hope these plans are not a stop-gap measure but are sustainable and permanent as they are solely needed to improve the quality of education. It is worth highlighting that these plans, just like any other socio-economic plan, will only reach their intended objectives in an environment that is characterized by labour peace, and in which public servants in particular can have confidence in the government of the day that respects collective agreements and ensures they are implemented by all parties. We call on the President to provide leadership on the impasse regarding the non-implementation of the last leg of Collective Agreement 1 of 2018 which should have ensured salary increments for public servants including teachers this year. The President's silence on this matter remains a concern.
Any recovery plan should be based on a solid education system. Neither recovery nor development will happen if there is no investment in education.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157