SMS school sabotage

2010-08-17 00:00

TEACHING was abandoned at various schools in Pietermartizburg yesterday after a number of teachers heeded an instruction in an SMS purportedly from the provincial leadership of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).

The SMS, circulated on Sunday evening, reads: “Comrades please be advised that SADTU KZN PEC has today (Sunday) resolved that all SADTU members are not to report to school tomorrow, Monday 16 August 2010 whilst we await the decision to strike from the NEC on Tuesday”.

However, both the provincial and regional leaderships of the teachers’ union have claimed to have no knowledge of the SMS. When contacted for comment by The Witness, the leaders said that was the first they had heard of it.

The stayaway from classrooms began as part of the public sector wage strike, which took place for one day last week. Today an announcement about a full strike is expected to be made.

In Durban, protests by people allegedly aligned with Sadtu led to pupils being sent home early yesterday.

According to reports and eyewitnesses, the protesters banged on school gates, preventing learning, which prompted teachers to call parents to fetch their children.

Affected schools included Durban Girls’ High, Bayview in Chatsworth and Glenwood High School.

In Pietermaritzburg townships and rural areas, pupils were also sent home by teachers acting on the iSMS.

Teachers from Imbali and the Vulindlela area said they went to school only to sign the register and tell pupils to go home because some of the teachers were absent due to the pending civil servants’ strike.

The principal of a poorly performing school in the Edendale area admitted to shutting the doors early yesterday because of poor attendance by pupils, but he claimed a 100% attedance by his teachers.

Phones went unanswered in some schools contacted by The Witness as early as 11am, confirming the impression that no one was there.

Schools close to the city remained unaffected

Sadtu provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi said he does not know the origins of the SMS, adding that the union’s provincial executive committee (PEC) instructed its members only to form strike committees and councils in preparation for the strike.

Mathonsi refused to be drawn when asked whether the PEC issued any form of instruction for teachers not to work. He said they are prepared to strike, because the government’s latest wage offer is inadequate.

Midlands regional secretary Willy Naidoo also claimed to have no knowledge of the SMS.

Naidoo said SMSes sent by Sadtu are always signed by the leader who sent it, and this one is not signed. Some text was missing at the end of the SMS sent to The Witness.

Asked for comment on the SMS and the stayway by teachers, Education Department spokesperson Mbali Thusi referred to a statement from MEC Senzo Mchunu last week urging grade 12 pupils to go back to school yesterday.

With 68 days to go before the matric examinations, Basic Education director-general Bobby Soobrayan believes a national effort is required to support the class of 2010.

Meanwhile, Beeld reported that there was chaos at several primary and high schools in the Vaal Triangle yesterday when striking teachers gained illegal access to the schools and intimidated teachers and pupils.

A grade 10 pupil of Vereeniging High School said they were writing a test when about 100 protesters, apparently teachers from other schools, stormed into their classrooms and started pushing and shoving people around.

The protesters told them to go to the sports field. A pupil said they were aggressive and carrying vuvuzelas and sticks. “We were quite scared so we did as they said.”

The boy said he saw some protesters slap a female teacher in the face and tear up their test papers.

A teacher at another school said protesters cut the school’s fence and trampled it to gain access.

The group, armed with sjamboks among other things, broke windows and threw rubbish bins from the first floor.


Comrades Please be advised that SADTU KZN PEC has today resolved that all SADTU members are not to report to school tomorrow, Monday 16 August 2010 whilst we await the decision to strike from the NEC on Tuesday. Members must prepare for Pickets and BEC members will inform educa*some text missing*.

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