Shut all Eastern Cape schools‚ says Sadtu

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has asked the provincial education department to shut all Eastern Cape schools because of “perpetual challenges”.

In a move to find common ground with the union‚ provincial education superintendent-general Themba Kojana asked at the weekend to meet the union’s leaders on Tuesday.

The union’s provincial executive committee convened last Wednesday and wrote to Kojana on Thursday evening‚ asking him to close schools because they face a multilayered crisis.

“We call upon our Eastern Cape department of education to close the schools with immediate effect until the department is ready‚ as life matters to most of us‚” the union wrote in the letter signed by its provincial secretary‚ Chris Mdingi.

“[There are] perpetual challenges of ablution facilities‚ personal protection equipment [PPE]‚ water supply and water tanks and non-availability of health officials‚ as promised.”

In a response to DispatchLIVE at the weekend‚ Kojana said: “Sadtu is an important partner and stakeholder of the department. We have constantly consulted them throughout the process of reopening of schools.

“A meeting is scheduled to take place on Tuesday to discuss all of the concerns and outline what the department is doing in mitigation of challenges and ensuring the safety of teachers and learners is not compromised.”

The union’s letter came just a few days after the department said 90% of the schools had reopened as PPE and water tanks had been delivered. Mdingi’s letter said the union recommended that “focus centres be used optimally for Grade 12 learners”.

In the focus areas‚ there had to be uniformity in the distribution of tablet computers. Mdingi said MEC Fundile Gade had distributed tablets to a select few schools.

Among other demands made in the letter were:

That Grade 12 final exam question papers be reviewed in the light of the circumstances;
That pupils and teachers start receiving the psycho-social support promised by the department; and
That reliable thermometers be made available at all schools.
Mdingi called on the department to take back all the mobile toilets given to schools because “they pose danger to human life‚ they are dehumanising and reverse the gains of the dawn of democracy‚ that of doing away with the bucket system we see now being brought through the back door to our schools. We refuse to be part of this arrangement and during our term of office”.

In a statement issued at the weekend‚ Mdingi said their provincial executive committee meeting noted that only about 65% of Grade 7 pupils had returned to schools in the province.

Sadtu provincial chair Tabile Kunene said the provincial government’s call for no visits to schools was a ploy to hide the reality faced by schools.

“We don’t want to be political grandstanders when we deal with this matter‚ and appear as if we are not affected and don’t want to bring solutions. We want the department to be cautious and to listen to the cries of our members.”

By: Soyiso Maliti

Source: ARENA Holdings.

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