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Slow pace of ECD shift to Basic Education, school robberies a concern for Sadtu

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The South African Democratic Teachers Union has raised concerns about the slow and uneven progress in ensuring the shift of Early Childhood Development from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education.

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THE SOUTH African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has raised concerns about the slow and uneven progress in ensuring the shift of Early Childhood Development (ECD) from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

This comes after the union held its first 2023 national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Boksburg recently to address educational, wage and organisational matters.

During the meeting, the NEC commended all the provinces that have made progress towards improving the salaries of ECD practitioners and condemned the other provinces that have not improved – more specifically, the Eastern Cape province refused to appoint almost 300 qualified ECD practitioners.

Despite it being active in consultation forums convened by the DBE and the South African Council for Educators (Sace) regarding the National Induction Framework for new teachers, Sadtu warned the DBE senior officials who have been frustrating the Grade R matter for their personal egos.

“The Grade R matters are now receiving attention after the union has written a strongly worded letter to the Basic Education Director General and copied the Minister. The NEC noted that there was a tendency by these senior officials (DDGs) to use the issues affecting hard-working Grade R to settle their petty political scores with the union. Sadtu will never tolerate such unprofessional behaviour by these senior officials (DDGs). Victory for Grade R matters is certain,” it said.

Meanwhile, the educators union also raised concerns about the increasing numbers of violence and robberies in schools since the beginning of the 2023 academic year. KwaZulu-Natal was the most affected province.

“In some of these robberies, the robbers came with speed point machines and forced teachers to swipe their (bank) cards. A branch chairperson was shot but survived in a similar incident in Sweetwaters, Pietermaritzburg,” it mentioned.

It highlighted that five schools could not function around Nkandla as principals were threatened by community members who closed access roads to schools demanding service delivery from the government.

“In KwaMaphumulo, community members chased away teachers who are not from the area demanding the employment of local graduates,” it added.

The NEC warned that these incidents may have a negative effect on the psychological well-being of teachers and the delivery of education as teachers in the affected schools are requesting to be transferred to other districts because they feel unsafe.

“This may lead to the closure of some schools as there would be no teachers prepared to teach in such schools,” it said.

It also lamented the slow pace by the department in providing psychosocial services to educators as well as learners.

To address the matter, the union resolved to redouble its internal well-being programme.

The union encouraged the parents and members of the public to work closely with law enforcement agencies to root out these criminal acts in the best interest of the teaching force and learners.

“We commend the bravery of our members who refused to be bullied and assisted in the apprehension of some of these gangs,” it said.

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