SADTU Statement on World Teachers' Day

05 October 2020

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) joins the world in celebrating World Teachers' Day, 05 October under the 2020 theme: "Teachers leading in crisis; reimagining the future".

This year's World Teachers' Day has an even greater significance in light of the challenges that teachers around the globe have faced during the COVID-19 crisis. As the pandemic has shown in our country, the teachers make a crucial contribution to ensuring continuity of learning and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their students.

Now is the time to recognise the teachers as builders of the nations by supporting them. We have heard parents saying schools should reopen because they were realizing how complex the teaching process is when they had to help with online or distance learning. This recognition of the vital work of the teachers must be acknowledged and supported.

Now is the time to provide quality education and training for student teachers in order to equip them with skills to respond to any crisis.

Now is the time to recognise the great leadership and innovation, including improvisation by the teachers during this crisis.

They developed new ways of delivering lessons to their learners because they have a conviction that learning must never stop when the classroom cannot be accessed during the crisis.

This is the time to celebrate the teachers for being everything to their learners where they provide comfort and build confidence in their learners to face the pandemic armed with knowledge.

SADTU wishes to thank all teachers, lectures in institutions of higher learning, Early Childhood Development practitioners, education support personnel and her members in particular for leading during the COVID-19 crisis. Teachers and all education support personnel were on the frontline in making certain that the authorities did not cut corners in ensuring that institutions of learning complied with COVID 19 regulations in order to save their lives as well as those of learners.

We wish to express our sincere respect to the educators and education support personnel who were infected by virus, with some losing their lives whilst responding to the call of duty. We will forever be indebted to them for sacrificing their lives when they put the interests of the learners above themselves. These are our heroes and heroines and as we celebrate, we must remember them.

The pandemic, again put into the spotlight, the inequalities within our education system. As learners had to learn from home due to the pandemic; many could not do so due to lack of resources and infrastructure. However, their counterparts in affluent and private schools who had the resource continued to be taught from the comforts of their homes.

We commend the teachers who despite the circumstances, went out of their ways, used their meagre resources, to keep in touch with their learners. As we celebrate this day, many are sacrificing their weekends, early mornings and late afternoons to teach in order to catch up. They do this without asking for overtime pay.

The COVID 19 pandemic, exposed the appalling conditions teachers work under; over-crowded classrooms, schools with no proper infrastructure in terms of water and ablution facilities thus exposing both the learners and teachers to the pandemic. This again showed that teachers have long been leading in a crisis and this makes it hard for them, as they are expected to do so as teachers, to reimagine the future.

World Teachers' Day has been observed since 1994 to celebrate the work of teachers and mark the anniversary of the adopted of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the status of teachers. In 1997, the Recommendation concerning the status of higher-education teaching personnel was adopted to complement the 1966 Recommendation and cover education personnel in institutions of higher learning.

The Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers; standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment and teaching conditions. As we commemorate this day, is it sad to note that the government is not following to the letter, the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation.

The government's failure to pay teacher's salary increases which were due to them in April as per Collective Agreement 1 of 2018 is a clear demonstration of how uncaring our employer is, showing no respect nor appreciation to hard working teachers even during such difficult times of pain and anxiety caused by the pandemic . It is a slap in the face that has left many teachers demoralised.

That is why SADTU supports the one-day strike called by the union Federation COSATU on Wednesday, 7 October 2020 in defence of, among others, collective bargaining, against corruption, rising unemployment and gender based violence. The undermining of collective bargaining weakens workplace democracy and dialogue. When dialogue is destroyed the results will be the promotion of anarchy and vigilantism. The promotion of collective bargaining ensures labour peace in the workplaces. The right to bargain collectively, as enshrined in our democratic legislation, is being threatened by apartheid era styles applied by the employer in a democratic state. This must be rejected.

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