No jeans, T-shirts, Zuma tells teachers

2009-08-08 00:00

IF you are a teacher, then consider your jeans and T-shirt wearing days over — if the president has anything to do with it.

President Jacob Zuma told more than 1 500 principals from all nine provinces at the International Convention Centre in Durban yesterday they ought to have a rule against teachers coming to work wearing jeans and T-shirts.

“When I grew up, teachers were considered decent people. Teachers did not have to be introduced. You knew who they were. They were known to be spotless and clean. They did not come wearing those blue pants: what do you call them?” said a serious Zuma. He added that he was one of those disadvantaged children and never went to school, but was greatly influenced by teachers.

“Teachers spend more years with a child than anybody.”

He also promised to make unannounced visits to schools to check that teachers are in their classrooms seven hours a day. “The influence of a teacher must come back,” he added.

Zuma was keeping a promise made during his state of the nation address to meet school principals to share his vision of the revival of education.

All premiers, except the Western Cape’s Helen Zille, and all education MECs and both ministers of Education were there to witness education’s big day.

The concerns raised by principals were the same: unqualified teachers, drug abuse, poor discipline and teenage pregnancies. Some called for the reintroduction of corporal punishment.

They mentioned poor infrastructure, no learner support materials, no transport for pupils, late pay-outs for non-fee schools and tardiness in the appointment of permanent teachers as some of their problems.

Zuma said he considers yesterday’s interaction important. He said infrastructure is a priority “in the work they are doing”.

He agreed discipline is a problem, but called for innovative ways of dealing with poor discipline since corporal punishment has been ruled unconstitutional.

He said discipline among teachers themselves is needed.

“I’m proposing for gatherings of this nature to be on an annual basis so we can monitor progress. It is important to point out it is no longer business as usual. This administration will do things differently. Throughout the structure of government we will not accept lazy people, not even teachers.”

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