Covid-19: Sadtu calls for vaccination of teachers to be extended to other education sectors

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Teachers at the Rabasotho Community Hall vaccination site on 23 June 2021 in Tembisa.
Teachers at the Rabasotho Community Hall vaccination site on 23 June 2021 in Tembisa.
PHOTO: Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images
  • The NEC of the South African Democratic Teachers' Union held a meeting this week.
  • The union says it is pleased with the rollout of the vaccination campaign in the basic education sector.
  • Sadtu says it will continue to urge government to consider other vaccines from Russia and Cuba.

The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) has called for the vaccination of teachers against Covid-19 to be extended to workers in the post-school sector.

The union agreed to the call at a two-day virtual meeting of its national executive committee (NEC) earlier this week.

Sadtu discussed organisational, educational and socio-economic issues during the meeting.

It said while it was pleased with the progress of the vaccination of teachers and school support staff across the country, it was concerned that workers in other sectors were not being considered for this phase of the vaccination programme. The union said workers not considered include those in early childhood development (ECD), technical, vocational and training, and community education training.

"The NEC called for the vaccination to be spread to as many people as possible to mitigate the devastating effects of this pandemic to save lives and livelihoods," Sadtu said in a statement.

READ | Covid-19: Vaccination registrations open for 50-somethings on Thursday

It also said it will talk to government – including Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande – about addressing the vaccination of people in the post-school sector.

On Tuesday, Nzimande announced that he had instructed Higher Health to develop a plan for the post-school sector's vaccination rollout.

He said the strategy would ensure access to vaccines for all staff, including academia, management and frontline staff at residences, as well as cleaning, security, and other support staff.

The minister said he would announce the rollout as soon as the Department of Health has allocated doses to the sector.

Russian and Cuban vaccines

Sadtu said it would also continue fighting vaccine nationalism and pressure the government to source vaccines from Russia and Cuba.

Sadtu said:

The NEC criticised the bureaucracy surrounding the distribution and sites and blamed these for the slow vaccination process. No one is safe until everyone is vaccinated.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) is the only body which can clear medicines for use in the country. It is currently considering an application to use the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.

The union also addressed the delays in shifting government authority over ECD centres from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education.

It said the delays were causing stress and raising insecurity for practitioners and caregivers.

Sadtu called on the government to speed up the process and conclude the policy, which would see the centres moving to the sector.

It added that it would play a key role in the Basic Education Law Amendment Bill process, which will affect ECD centres shifting to the education sector.

The union said it would also put pressure on the Department of Basic Education to attend to the working conditions of all ECD practitioners at the Education Labour Relations Council.

The NEC called for the bill to be submitted to Cabinet for approval before being sent to Parliament.

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