SADTU statement on World Teacher's Day

4 October 2021

“Teachers at the heart of education recovery”

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), the largest union in the education and public service sectors, pays homage to all teachers, lecturers in institutions of higher learning, Early Childhood Development practitioners, education support personnel and her members in particular as the world commemorates World Teachers’ Day on 05 October.

The day celebrates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers which sets standards regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and the standards for their initial training and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. In 1997, the Recommendation was amended to cover the status of teaching personnel in higher education.

The day speaks to a massive token of the mindfulness, comprehension and thankfulness showed for the fundamental commitment that educators make by teaching.

We are celebrating World Teachers’ Day, for the second time in a row, under a dark cloud of the devastating COVID 19 pandemic that caused untold disruptions to schooling, economy and life in general. In the first year of the pandemic alone, 1 650 teachers lost their lives and dozens more continue to die. The theme for this year’s celebration, “Teachers at the heart of education recovery” places a heavy load on the shoulders of teachers who are still grappling with the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.

SADTU takes off her hat to the teachers for the role they have played in ensuring that education continues under these trying times. They have had to adapt to new ways of teaching using online platforms to reach their learners; they have had to be counsellors to their learners who have lost their parents and teachers; they have had to be safety officers to ensure their schools comply with the health and safety guidelines in order to save their lives as well as those of learners; they have had to sacrifice their precious time with families teaching during weekends and holidays to make up for the lost time. They are indeed at the heart of education recovery.

For this year’s theme (Teachers at the heart of education recovery) to become a reality, SADTU is calling for increased investment in the well-being, training, professional development and working conditions of teachers to recover the learning losses and to adapt to new ways of teaching and learning that have to contend with the pandemic.

We need education for our economy to recover. For South Africa to be more productive, we need more educated workers, government has to invest in human resource development and teachers are crucial in producing that educated and skilled workforce.

We celebrate this day under a heavy cloud of austerity measures that have threatened the stability of the education system until the union challenged the government in particular in the KwaZulu Natal (KZN). The union made sure that no educator or education personnel would lose their jobs in KZN.

As we celebrate this teachers’ day, SADTU is fully aware of the task at hand to ensure that the gains we have made to safeguard the Status of Teachers as per the 1966 Recommendation are adhered to. We are therefore going to heed the call by our union federation, COSATU to take part in marches across the country on 7 October to make our voice heard against the austerity measures, rising unemployment, safety in workplaces, gender-based violence and many other ills affecting workers.

The country needs more teachers, more resources, more training and better working conditions for teachers. Quality education for all is the only sustainable way of recovery where the teachers are at the centre. We therefore demand that education be classified as an emergency in order to release the required financial relief required for an inclusive and sustainable recovery.

Join the motorcades organised by the COSATU on the 7th October 2021.

Let’s defend our revolution and deepen democracy.

Aluta Continua! Happy World Teachers’ Day.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT:

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157