'Education is essential, but not an essential service' – NGO

2018-07-23 17:33

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Equal Education (EE) says government's call to declare education an essential service will not solve the fundamental prevailing problems within the education sector. 

"This declaration would not address, among others, issues of poor infrastructure, lack of resources and overcrowding in schools," EE said in a statement on Monday.

The organisation also said declaring education an essential service undermined the legitimacy of the grievances that teachers try to raise through the right to strike.

On June 15 the Department of Labour's essential services committee issued a public notice which highlighted the government's intention to review its list of essential services under the Labour Relations Act.

In 2013 former ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said education would be declared an essential service. 

During the same year former president Jacob Zuma also said by declaring the education sector an essential service government was not looking to take away the constitutional right of teachers to strike. 

Quality education

However, EE maintains that is exactly what declaring a sector an essential service means. 

"This declaration would mean that it is permissible for government to prohibit strikes," the organisation said. 

"EE is wholly aware that teachers carry a tremendous responsibility towards learners. We cannot ignore that the teaching profession is faced with challenges such as, teacher absenteeism, poor subject content knowledge, and corruption in the appointment of principals, among others." 

EE said the causes of issues that leave teachers dissatisfied with their income, their work environment and with the department of basic education to the detriment of pupils should be addressed. 

"We must strive for an education system that ensures that all learners in public schools receive quality education, and that teachers as the facilitators of this process, are treated with fairness, dignity and respect."

Read more on:    equal education  |  education

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