COSATU's call irresponsible
I am appalled to read of Cosatu's Western Cape General Secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, encouraging teachers, and more worrying - learners, to partake in the planned strike for 7 March 2012. 4 of the 32 marches planned will take place in the Western Cape.
Mr Ehrenreich admitted to the media that "There won't be a lot of education happening on the day of the strike" and that "Kids and students are also welcome to march with", as reported by IOL Online today, 5 March 2012. These statements are irresponsible and not befitting of anyone with the best interest of our learners at heart.
I would like to remind Mr Ehrenreich of the call by President Zuma during his State of the Nation address. He called for "teachers to be in school, in class, on time, teaching for at least seven hours a day" as pivotal to the success of education in South Africa. In the Western Cape, it has been said and enforced that learners should be in class, learning, during school hours. There are strict regulations in place with regard to attending extracurricular events during school time. These are put in place specifically to ensure that any activity during school hours add to the quality of education of the learner. The procedures also aim to ensure the safety of learners whilst not in the school environment.
Cosatu clearly portrays an abandoning of shared understanding that school-time should be respected, a total disregard for procedure and a callous concern for consequences with regards to safety. These actions should be seen as criminal - stealing an education opportunity.
As DA spokesperson for Education in the Western Cape, I urge all teachers to consider the best interest of the learners. Though it is within one's rights to join in the march, even one day of learning lost is one day too many. I urge the Department of Education in the Western Cape, via the districts offices and every principal, to communicate effectively to all learners that their education is the priority on 7 March 2012. I ask the Minister of Education, Donald Grant, to caution those teachers who are planning to join in the marches. No situation of intimidation, towards learners or other teachers, nor damages to property should be tolerated.
Statement issued by Cathy Labuschagne, DA Western Cape spokesperson for Education of Western Cape Provincial Parliament, March 5 2012
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