While South Africa battles the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organisation has warned against opening schools during the peak infection period…
Last week, South African teachers’ unions called on the government to close schools as the pandemic spreads rapidly across the country. While the unions and government debate the safety of teachers and learners, some are asking whether or not teachers should get paid if schools are closed.
When All4Women posed this question to our readers, the response was overwhelming. A massive 85% of readers believe that teachers should continue to get paid their full salaries even if schools are closed.
Thousands of teachers have worked significant hours of overtime over the past few months to adapt to online teaching in schools where this is an option. Those who aren’t able to offer online teaching or WhatsApp support to learners, have appealed to government to implement alternatives such as radio or television classes.
What All4Women readers had to say:
- Lorato Steenkamp: “Yes they should get paid. We shouldn’t even ask this question as they are so underpaid .They have bills to pay and other responsibilities.”
- Lavern Coetzee: “It’s thru teachers that we have Drs, lawyers, nurses engineers, and I can go on. They must be paid the most money”
- Tracy Wilson: “Yes closing schools does not mean that teachers can not do online lessons from classrooms in their own classes to reduce infections or alternatively from their homes teachers lives matter Nd are just as valuable as students lives. Angie is just simply dragging out the decision to close a hooks Nd protect lives from lock down 5 the schools should’ve been closed till 2021 with children having laptops thru the Gov/edu Dept Nd data for wifi”
- Deseree Hartshorne: Teachers work even harder now with preparation, transferring to online as well as trying to make sure their children are grasping the concept by themselves without parents prompting their child, teachers are always working, during school holidays, weekends, early hours, late evenings. So HELL YES WE SHOULD BE PAID!!!!!!”
- Hayley Lindeman: “We still have to pay school fees so teachers should still get paid!”
- Berinda Boshoff: “Yes, if they doing online classes. Then it is okay to pay them.”
- Melissa Van De Venter: “If school fees are payable then teachers should be paid”
- S’thandiwe Zoomer-Mbele: “Had there been a way for teachers to give online classes, I bet you they would be available to conduct those classes. Had there not been a pandemic in the country, i bet you they would be in schools teaching our kids. For the safety of our kids as well as the safety of the teachers, i support their staying at home.”
- Anita Jacobsz: “Of course, they are working harder than ever. They don’t stop working just because they are not at school.”
“We’re not asking for a holiday” – Unions
“We are not advocating for teachers to sit back and enjoy a holiday. We want to be working on alternative models [for teaching],” National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) executive director Basil Manuel said on Monday. He said the issue now was not just about children being infected, but also the mental health and safety of teachers.
“We are dealing with lives here and are frustrated; however we must not give up… We are doing this because we have serious problems in schools,” said South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke.
A number of experts have advised the government to cancel the academic year, and alter the 2021 curriculum to accommodate the deficit.
Thousands of teachers continue to work remotely
Rubbishing proposals by some to not pay teachers while they sat at home, Manuel said thousands of teachers continued their work remotely so pupils would not fall behind.
The unions argued that teachers should be trained on how to prepare online lessons and assessments.
They should also be equipped to work from home and prepare work for when schools reopened.
Government is in ‘talks’
After last week’s recommendations by the WHO, and appeals from the teachers unions, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has been in talks with “various stakeholders” to find a way forward. Her spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said on Monday that the consultation process was now closed.
“The minister has concluded the consultation process… she is now processing a comprehensive report of this process through [the] structure of government eventually with the NCCC [National Coronavirus Command Council] and Cabinet.”
Limpopo & KZN suspend return of Grade 3 & 10
The phased reintroduction of grades is under debate. On Monday, it was confirmed that the Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal education departments have suspended the return of Grade 3 and Grade 10 pupils to school. The grades had been due to return on Monday, along with several grades from schools for pupils with severe intellectual disabilities and those with autistic pupils.
Limpopo education spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said that they had decided to suspend the return of these grades “after careful consideration of all key variables”.
Grades 1 and 2 are set to return to school next Monday.