9113 educators and support staff in Gauteng province have refused to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.
Gauteng Education Department (GDE) MEC Panyaza Lesufi said reasons against vaccination include “the power of fake news”.
In an interview, Lesufi said the refusal to be vaccinated has caused great concern for the sector as some of the educators and staff refusing to be vaccinated have underlying comorbidities.
“It is quite clear from the reasons that have been provided that it is the power of fake news that have taken over some of our staff members.
“And it worries us especially when some of the educators fall in the trap and accept fake news as reality,” said Lesufi.
He added that South Africa is a democratic state and as such the use of the vaccine is not compulsory in this sector.
“It is a choice and as a department we will continue to persuade.
“We must ensure educators take responsibility because we need to protect our children and we need to protect the sector,” he said.
The Department of Basic Education announced its massive education sector vaccination programme last month. The drive aims to inoculate those who work in the sector to ensure learning is no longer disrupted.
According to the provincial department, about 57 000 educators (out of 124 934) in the province have been vaccinated at the 56 vaccination sites across the province.
Lesufi said the number of vaccinated personnel is expected to increase next week as delays in the capturing of educators and support staff from Schools Governing Bodies and independent schools have been resolved.
“It needs to be noted that the reluctance to vaccinate is a threat to the government’s efforts to normalise schooling during this disruptive pandemic.
This effectively threatens the academic year in its entirety,” said Lesufi.
Adding that educators were prioritised in this phase of vaccine rollout and as such, are expected to take advantage of the opportunity to avoid further disruptions and learning losses in the sector.
Lesufi said the provincial department is almost halfway in vaccinating all educators in the province, and they still have a week to conclude this task.
“We have no intention to request an extension from the minister of basic education or the minister of health. It would be selfish not to conclude the task within the allotted timeframe because there are others waiting to be vaccinated,” said Lesufi.
“We believe we will conclude the task before the 14 days given,” he said.
Lesufi said the sector has gone through a very painful period and that taking the jab should minimise the pain, the frustration and anxiety within the sector.
“We will continue to persuade and hopefully, before the deadline comes, the majority of our educators and staff members would have changed their mind,” he said.
He said key stakeholders in the education sector including unions and SGBs have thrown in their support behind the vaccination programme.
“They are aware of the challenges that the virus has had on the provision of quality education to our children in Gauteng.
“Again, we urge those who are refusing to vaccinate to come forward and take the vaccination which millions across the world are seeking,” said the MEC.