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Teachers Union SADTU Demands Closure Of Schools Until After COVID-19 Peak

NYAKALLO TEFU

THE South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) on Tuesday called on Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga to shut down schools as the country approaches the long-feared coronavirus storm. 

The call was made following a special meeting by the union’s national executive committee (NEC) to discuss the spread of the virus at schools across the country.

The union’s general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said Sadtu has called for an urgent meeting with Motshekga, failing which the union would have no choice but to take action against the minister.

“Many people have gone to court and failed. We know what action to take to get through to the minister without going to court. The court will be the last resort,” said Maluleke after the union’s special national executive committee meeting on Tuesday.

“The situation is dire. We as an organisation cannot continue to send messages of condolences to families. The rate of community transmissions are impacting on schooling.”

Maluleke said the teachers union is calling for interactive radio and TV lessons during school closures.

“We also encourage the use of education apps where content is verified; these are some suggestions we are proposing during school closures,” said Maluleke.

The union said learners and teachers can also make use of apps such as Whatsapp to continue with studies.

“Learning must not stop when schools are closed, we need to perfect other platforms in terms of blended learning, we have to train teachers to be able to use these specific platforms, this is a long-term solution because of the pandemic we are facing,” said Maluleke. 

This call for online learning comes after unions rejected it when the lockdown started in March, saying some learners will be left out due to their socio-economic backgrounds. 

However, SADTU has taken an about-turn, saying this is because it is being predicted that the pandemic may still be around in two years and long-term solutions are vital.

“We are working with a number of institutions including of health, we are told the pandemic maybe for two years and in South Africa, it maybe 3-5 years because we aren’t so privileged. So, we need to find long term solutions to move forward,” said Maluleke. 

The union said unfortunately it cannot call for the academic year to be cancelled because the country is not equal. 

“If we were living in a country of equality, we would declare the academic year over, but we are not. Independent schools are continuing with schooling and that means public schools from poor backgrounds will not have children continuing with their education,” said Maluleke. 

The union said they have not set a date to meet with the minister.

However, this will be done urgently.

Sadtu urged its members to continue going to school until they are advised otherwise by the teacher union. 

“We are not a lawless society. We are not saying we must stay home immediately. We will engage the Minister first before going forward,” said Maluleke. 

(Compiled by Inside Education staff)

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