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Angie cancels meeting with teacher unions

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“We have no idea why it has been postponed, none of the unions know who is being spoken to whether it's the Council of Education Ministers or education officials within the department."

Basic education minister, Angie Motshekga. File photo: ANA/Jacques Naude

Johannesburg – Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has cancelled a meeting with teacher unions that was set for Wednesday morning.

Teacher unions received a notice early on Wednesday morning indicating their meeting would be cancelled and Motshekga would be consulting within the sector. 

Basil Manuel, executive director of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa), said it was critical the minister met with the teacher unions on Wednesday. 

“We have no idea why it has been postponed, none of the unions know who is being spoken to whether it’s the Council of Education Ministers or education officials within the department. 

“We hope common sense will prevail because we have so much to discuss, like the rationale behind our calls as teacher unions to close schools for the peak. We also want to discuss how to save the matric year,” he said. 

Manuel said it was important that the minister met the unions on Wednesday as teachers were anxious at schools and they had not asked them to stay away from school despite issuing public statements urging Motshekga to close schools ahead of the Covid-19 peak.

“We have our views and we want to share them because we are not just saying schools must be shut down without a plan. There are many things that we need to discuss, like how long do we close, when do we return, because these are all the things we don’t know right. 

“We are also saying the storm is upon us, why are we doubting that, and we also need to talk about the mental health of our teachers, our teachers are frightened,” said Manuel.

Manuel said teachers were at school and they were awaiting “absolute clarity” today. 

Meanwhile, the Council of Education Ministers on Tuesday said a decision to close schools would be taken by Cabinet. 

“The decision on whether schools will be closed or not will be taken by Cabinet. Having said that, one of the main reasons for the phased-in reopening of schools was to make sure the unfettered right to basic education for all children is equitably provided.” 

It also warned teachers and principals against attacking the department and said it would take action against organisations that were disrupting schools calling for closure.

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