Where are you taking us, Sadtu?

2015-05-27 06:00

NOW that the protest action, by way of the unprotected strike by the eThekwini North Region (iLembe District) has thankfully come to an end, it is important that all stakeholders evaluate the strike action by teachers and the cost particularly to pupils who missed lessons for several days.

It is sad that the rule of law, authority and democracy has been challenged and eroded by the action of teachers. I have tried to gain the facts in this issue however these are hard to come by - and depend on who you speak to.

Despite that, I have come to the conclusion that a handful of union officials are misleading and fooling the mass of teachers. It seems that these officials have a personal agenda and it is sad to see that they receive the support of other members of the union.

I request that the union officials concerned, union members, Department of Education and parents take note some of my personal observations with respect to the union’s action.

• If there are grounds for incompetence on the part of the district director (T. Vilakazi), as alleged by the union, then the authorities concerned (DOE) should look into this matter and have her removed if this be the case, after the proper investigation/procedures have been followed.

Whatever the findings of such an investigation the results of such an investigation should be acted upon. If this matter is not dealt with once and for all then I can forsee a repeat of such disorderly conduct during the academic year.

Those responsible for this mess must be brought to book. No one should be feared or favoured. The community at large is not interested in who the district director is; their interest is in whether the director is doing his/her work.

• The union needs to find support and sympathy in the parents and the rest of the community for their fight against the so called “incompetence of the district director­”.

The fact that the actions of the union received no support from parents or civic bodies speaks for itself. The union is reminded that parents are not fools.

Parents are reminded that the action by the union in this district did not have anything to do with the annual salary negotiations – which have been concluded amicably by the parties concerned (thankfully).

However, I must add that the silence from the parent sector in this matter is disappointing. Parents are reminded that the education and welfare of our children is at stake and it is time that you are heard in this matter. Remember “evil prospers when good men do nothing”.

• The interdict by the DOE, in my opinion, came into force too late – the damage was already done.

Now it is incumbent on teachers to “go the extra mile” to cover lessons in the interest of pupils. Where was “the interest of pupils” two weeks ago?

• I am very familiar with what the acronym “Sadtu” stands for. What happened to the “democracy” element? Why are teachers being intimidated to join you in your strike action. Why are you forcing teachers (even those not belonging to your union) out of their schools?

I am flabbergasted Sadtu. Why this path? You did not start this way and have strayed from your original mandate.

If democracy truly prevailed I wonder how many teachers would be at such demonstrations.

The hand of intimidation is at work and sadly a number of our hard working educators are at such strikes due to pressure and intimidation. If we allow this to happen then disaster is going to befall education and society.

It is time that teachers stand up against every injustice, even intimidation and look to what is in the interest of our pupils. Pupils must not be the “sacrificial lambs” in this matter.

• Teachers “plant a seed” through their actions and words - in our pupils. What seed, may I ask, are you planting, by your actions, in the minds of these impressionable children in your charge? Mark my words, the seeds that you plant are bound to grow. Today you do not like the face of the one appointed as district director and therefore you strike, in the days to come pupils who do not like your face will do the very same thing. The “seed principle” never fails – for it is wisely said: “As you sow so shall you reap.”

• One local newspaper quoted the regional secretary claiming “victory” in your actions.

This is both misleading and mischievous. What victory – that the national DOE is intervening in the matter where the DOE KZN has failed you. I must be clear that there is no victory if our children have been short-changed.

An investigation into the Sadtu strike action in the province of KZN has been has been commissioned by the national minister of education. It will be interesting to see the outcome of such an investigation.

This is a call for strong leadership from government and particularly the DOE. The rights of pupils to education must never be compromised, even so by the very ones who are supposed to educate.

Our country needs every teachers’s contribution or else we face a bleak tomorrow. M. Sambiah


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