Minister bemoans teacher strike threat
Cape Town - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has expressed disappointment at the threat by thousands of Eastern Cape teachers to go on strike.
However, she had been assured by officials that the exams would not be compromised, she told the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Motshekga was responding to Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Koos van der Merwe, who noted that teachers belonging to the SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) were threatening to strike in the middle of the matric exams.
"Sadtu want 53 000 Eastern Cape teachers to strike from Friday," he told the House.
They were demanding that the provincial education department reinstate about 4 000 temporary teachers whose contracts were terminated last year.
Sadtu also claimed the department failed to consult them over the number of teaching posts the department would fund next year.
"Almost every year now, teachers aligned to Sadtu find some or other excuse to disrupt exams, putting learners' future in jeopardy," Van der Merwe said.
Right to education
Teachers should respect pupils' right to education. Teachers should also demand that Sadtu realise that every pupil had the right to uninterrupted teaching, especially during exam times.
It was only a matter of weeks before all the schools closed and pupils began their annual holidays.
"Why must a strike be called now? Only to punish innocent learners or pure blackmail."
The IFP strongly condemned Sadtu's actions.
"We call on the department of education to demand that teachers put a stop to disrupting schools during examinations," Van der Merwe said.
Motshekga responded: "I have to say with quite sadness... we are very disappointed that Sadtu has decided to go on strike for many reasons which I think [are] even beyond the dispute around post provisioning.
Exams will be protected
"I had a meeting with officials, both from national and provinces... and I can report that we got an assurance that exams will be protected," she said.
The strikers would "make sure that the integrity of the exams is not compromised".
However, the reasons for the strike were due to broader problems in education in the Eastern Cape.
"But, I agree with you, it is quite disappointing," Motshekga said.
Her department earlier said efforts were underway to try and avert the strike.
"We have been in discussions ever since we learned about that strike. We are hopeful that we can avert the strike," spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said.
Sadtu in the Eastern Cape, which claims a membership of 53 000, is planning to march to the premier's office in Bhisho on Friday.
It intended handing over a list of demands it felt were being ignored, provincial Sadtu secretary Mncekeleli Ndongeni said. He said there would be no disruptions of matric exams as invigilators had been told to carry on with their work.
"We have told those invigilating exams to stay at their posts and those who are not invigilating that they must join the march."