A group of Soweto students have been offered a glimmer of hope by the public service unions’ announcement to suspend the protracted strike action for 21 days.
These ten students, who had started a self-study group at Phefeni Senior Secondary School in Soweto during the strike, are optimistic about their prospects to regain lost time with the return of teachers.
However, Siphelele Tshabalala (18) said he went to school yesterday and only a few teachers had pitched.
Tshabalala said: “We were told that teaching will resume on Wednesday (today) and timetables for preliminary examinations will be issued.”
During the strike, the group committed four hours daily towards self-study with the help of old question papers and newspaper supplements.
Emmanuel Gumbi (19), one of the students in the study group, said: “Due to the World Cup we now have a lot that still needs to be covered on our syllabus.”
He urged government to take educators seriously so that they could continue their work.
Daniel Mokgojoe (18) said teachers deserved the money they were demanding.
“Teachers sacrifice a lot of their time at the expense of their families to help us have a better future,” Mokgojoe said.
Sakhile Mcunu from Orlando West High said that teachers are unfairly expected to deal with a huge workload while they earn little.
“The president has a lot of wives and children who are obviously not experiencing what we are going through. That is why nobody wants to listen to the teachers,” Mcunu said.
“We now have to take responsibility and educate ourselves through study groups.”
Parents and other relatives have also voiced their dissatisfaction with the impact of the strike.
Sakhile’s sister, 27-year-old Nonkululeko Mhlungu, said there was “no seriousness on the government’s side”.
Mhlungu said: “My brother has ambitions to study further and the strike might derail his plans.”
Kefilwe Moatshe (57) is Mokgojoe’s aunt and equally distressed about the effect the strike might have on learners.
“Our children might go on drugs, crime and alcohol when sitting at home and doing nothing,” Moatshe said.
“It pains us to see the future of our children compromised in this way,” Moatshe said.