PMB Model C schools shut

2010-08-20 00:00

STRIKERS chased teachers out of Model C schools in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, and the Basic Education Department warned it will charge strikers who damage property or engage in intimidation.

Department spokesperson Granville Whittle told The Witness they have established monitoring teams to check registers and report incidents of violence and intimidation at schools and Education Department buildings.

“We have had reports of damage to property and will take up all those cases … Someone will account once the strike is over, and we will charge anyone found guilty.”

Girls’ High School, Clarendon Primary, Northern Park and Pelham Senior Primary were among schools forced to shut down. Both Girls’ High and Pelham had pupils at school.

In one of the schools The Witness visited yesterday, teachers could be seen inside, but they were too scared to answer the intercom when The Witness tried to interview them.

The principal eventually came out after a message was passed through the caretaker and said the teachers understand the reason for the strike, but they will never put the demand for better pay ahead of the pupils.

An angry senior staff member at another school said the behaviour of members of the SA Democratic Teachers’Assocaition (Sadtu) is no different from that the oppressive apartheid government.

“It is not that we don’t support the cause, but our union had not given us any directives to stay away. We were told to close school on Friday and Monday by our union. Why must Sadtu dictate to us how to do things?”

As parents hurried to get their children home safely, an angry mother said it is disgusting that the striking teachers, who have had their turn at education, are disrupting the futures of innocent children.

Two of the striking teachers said every member of the unions is out to get an 8,6% increase.

“We might look like monkeys now, but at the end of the day they will also be smiling all the way to the bank. But at whose expense? Why are we the ones made to labour alone? We also love the children. That is why we joined the profession,” they said.

The Witness has confirmed with police that another Northdale school has opened a case of intimidation after staff members were harassed by strikers yesterday.

Trial examinations are set to start in September for some schools and as early as next week for others.

Whittle said schools may have to postpone their internal trial exams if the situation doesn’t normalise soon.

But the department cannot afford to postpone the final exam since “this will affect the time the results get to universities and a whole chain of events”, he added.

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