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Hey, teachers, don‘t leave our kids alone!

 
Is there any way we can find a solution that satisfies both teachers’ and learners’ rights?
By Adele Hamilton
Article originally in Parent24
This week, teachers belonging to the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) are due to decide whether or not to go out on strike in order to drive home their increase demands. All signs would suggest they will be on strike, at least on Tuesday. 

People have a right to be paid properly for their work, and if there ever was a group of people who were historically underpaid, it’s the teachers. Considering the importance of the task, and the increased discipline and administrative challenges teachers face, it’s easy to be sympathetic to their struggle for an acceptable salary increase.

But as a parent, watching my teen knuckling down to his work, engaging with the possibilities of future study and maturing into a young adult, I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I wish that his forward momentum didn’t have to struggle over the speed bump of having teachers out of the classroom, even on a lawful strike with a legitimate grievance.

Especially with this year being so topsy-turvy due the long World Cup holiday, it’s really focus time. Matric exams are due to start in less than three months’ time, and we can only hope that this year’s matric candidates will be raring to go and improve on last year’s results.

In case the strike goes ahead, schools and the education department are already making contingency plans for supervision by non-union staff and parents. Planning in the Western Cape reportedly includes developing workbooks so children can go through the syllabus on their own.

Is there no way out of this situation where each year learners lose valuable face time with teachers? Can the relevant stake holders please get together and make a pledge to head these situations off in future before it becomes a matter of striking?

I, for one, would love to be part of the solution. Could the finance minister consider a bold move in which education gets a dramatically increased share of the budget? I am sure many of us have ideas about which areas money could be cut from (anyone for fewer full page ads in the newspapers extolling the virtues of every department?)

What else could be done to prevent the inevitable strikes for more pay that seem set to disrupt our schools?

Read more by Adele Hamilton

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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