Allow teachers into class, pleads union
Mbombela - The South African Students Congress (Sasco) in Mpumalanga has made an urgent appeal to teachers' unions to allow members, who want to work during the national strike, into schools.
At a press conference in Mbombela on Tuesday, Sasco provincial secretary Sakhele Ngwamba said the congress supported workers in their demand for decent salaries but it should not be achieved at the expense of pupils.
“There are teachers who understand that the strike will benefit them, but because of their spirit of ubuntu, they are willing to stay in classrooms and teach. We appeal to unions to allow these teachers to do so for the sake of pupils,” said Ngwamba.
He said Sasco had submitted a “catch-up plan” for pupils to the provincial department of education.
“We have organised graduates and university students who are willing to help pupils prepare for their final exams. We have already submitted this proposal to the department so that they can help us with the necessary funding.”
'Disappointed' in Zuma
Ngwamba said Sasco was "disappointed" in President Jacob Zuma, who had left for China with a contingent of businesspeople while civil servants in South Africa faced enormous challenges.
“The president of the state left with about 350 businesspeople to go to China, yet the government fails to give the working class what they deserve. This shows that the ruling class is continuing to frustrate the poor and the working class,” added Ngwamba.
The provincial chairperson of the South African Democratic Teachers Union, Oupa Bodibe, said the strike was out of unions' hands and that only the government could end it by giving in to workers' demands.
“We feel the pain of the pupils and students who have to sit for exams, but we also need to make sure that teachers and other civil servants are not abused or underpaid. Everything is in the hands of the employer - they must give us what we deserve, then we will go back to work,” said Bodibe.
Provincial education department spokesperson Jasper Zwane said the department was considering Sasco's proposal. He added that all public schools in the province were closed on Tuesday.
Mpumalanga had the lowest matric pass rate - 47.9% - in the country last year.