South African teachers are not pleased with an opposition party’s suggestion that they should not be paid their salaries if schools are closed over the coronavirus pandemic, APA learnt on Monday.The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and other teachers’ representatives have urged the government to shut down the schools due to increased Covid-19 cases in the country, saying entering classrooms had become hazardous to both teachers’ and students’ health.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance has expressed strong objection to the SADTU’s demands to close the schools, which are currently opened for selected classes only as part of the social distancing measures.
Responding to this, SADTU general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said any suggestion not to pay the teachers while away from classes due to the pandemic was “mischievous.”
“We have noted that there is a debate in the public about the salaries of the teachers. This debate is misplaced. It’s a diversion,” Maluleke said.
He added: “There are problems in our schools and we have to make sure our learners are taught in an environment that is safe.”
National Teacher Union president Allan Thompson said the country’s infection rate alone should convince Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to close the schools.
“We are worried about South Africa’s rate of infections now exceeding 300,000; hence our call that the government must consider closing the schools until the peak passes,” Thompson said.
Responding to the demand, Motshekga said she would consult the ruling African National Congress party and government first before responding to the unions’ demands.