South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) Gauteng said it would intensify the demonstrations at Hoërskool Overvaal in Vereeniging until the school governing body (SGB) accedes to the demand of introducing English as a medium of instruction.
Speaking to Inside Education this morning, the union’s spokesperson, Tseliso Ledimo, said he was satisfied with the way the campaign was going saying this would culminate in a march on Thursday where they would present memoranda to the school governing body and the district offices. He said they had been part of the protest since the school re-opened last week Wednesday.
Asked how long they would demonstrate, Ledimo said this would be determined by the SGB’s willingness to engage.
“That is what is fundamental to us, we want them to come to the table to discuss the issue of turning the school into a dual medium. We believe negotiations have always been part of the culture on how, we in South Africa, resolve our differences,” said Ledimo.
He said it was at that meeting that they would agree if the 55 learners would be placed or if they would stay where they are currently enrolled until 2019. Ledimo said they would use the campaign to “knock sense” into the SGB and the Hoerskool Overvaal’s case can be used to deal with other Afrikaans single medium schools as a way of addressing the broader transformation project.
As to why their members join the demonstration during office hours, Ledimo said in terms of the law they were permitted to take time off for executive union duties. He said most of the members who were part of the protest were teachers drawn from schools in Sedibeng.
“We are aware that they are supposed to be away from their jobs indefinitely but the law does allow them to be off from work for eight days in a year. They are required to fill in leave forms and arrange with the school management to ensure the learners do not suffer while they are away. So far they have only been away for roughly two days,” said Ledimo, adding that he thought they were still within the prescribed legal requirement as we speak.
In its statement last week, the union dismissed as “nonsensical” the school’s assertion that it does not have capacity to place 55 grade 8 learners. He said the SBG met with the Gauteng education department (GDE) where it was agreed the school would start dual-medium of instruction this year
“The school has 21 classrooms four of which are not used for teaching and learning. The school had 610 learners in 2017. The 55 grade 8 learners could have been easily accommodated in 2018. This school has 22 state employed and 6 SGB employed educators all of whom are white.
“Clearly, the so-called lack of capacity is nonsensical. This is a public school which must serve the needs of the immediate community which is largely a Black community,” read part of the statement.
The union also expressed its support for the GDE’s decision to appeal the judgment as it believes another court would arrive at a different conclusion.