Sadtu, Cosas chalk new education demands

2010-09-19 10:41

With just 35 days to go before the final matric examination, the class of 2010 faces yet another week of interrupted preliminary exams and classrooms without teachers.

Both the SA Democratic ­Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) and the ­Congress of SA Students (Cosas) this week served a set of demands on government, which included a plan for earning teachers the ­wages they lost by participating in the public service strike.

The demands, which emerged this week during what the ­participants called a “basic ­education crisis committee” meeting, ­include postponing the preliminary exams as well as the final matric exam.

Some teachers seem to be as willing as Cosas to turn the ­remaining exam weeks into a ­battleground.

Yesterday, the Saturday Star ­reported on a leaked Gauteng central region Sadtu memo to teachers, which called them to a mass meeting tomorrow, further disrupting preliminary exams.

This memo also informed teachers Sadtu was going back to the streets “indefinitely and ­perpetually”. But Sadtu denied that further strike action would be ­announced at this meeting.

Cosas’ protests at preliminary exams countrywide this week saddled this year’s embattled matrics with another week of ­disrupted education on top of all their learning time, already ­obliterated by the World Cup and the strike.

The protests resulted in the death of a learner in Free State and the arrest of scores of others countrywide.

The package of demands, ­presented by Sadtu and Cosas to government at a meeting this week, resembles a strategic move to recover wages that teachers lost while on strike.

If provincial education ­departments implemented the “no work, no pay” rule with regard to their 15 strike days, teachers stand to lose almost a full month’s ­salary.

The Cosas/Cosatu demands ­include using Saturdays as ­normal school days, adding two additional hours of teaching time on weekdays and the “complete scrapping” of the September ­holidays.

This, according to SA Students Congress secretary-general Lazola Ndamase, would add up to the days lost in the strike.

Fifteen days, he said, would be gained from adding five ­Saturdays to five days made up from two extra hours of teaching time on weekdays.

The remaining five days would come from the September ­holidays, he said.

Cosas secretary-general Sbonelo Shezi said the demands would be discussed at a meeting with government at the ­weekend but this meeting, ­according to ­education ­spokesperson Granville Whittle, has not been ­confirmed.

Shezi said the weekend’s ­meeting would be followed up by a meeting between the education minister and provincial MECs ­tomorrow, and a Cosas national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Durban on Tuesday.

Cosas will have a press briefing after the NEC meeting to ­announce whether it will proceed with the protests or not.

Cosas, he said, had achieved some successes in provinces like Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga during the past week.

“We are ­getting somewhere in terms of our ­demands,” he said.

Asked whether teachers will volunteer their services during the extra teaching days and hours demanded by the Sadtu/Cosas ­alliance, Shezi replied that only some educators would.

He said: “You must understand that these guys have no money. It will be difficult for them to ­volunteer.”

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