Malema’s optimism and teachers disappearing

Media Headliner and unchallenged ANCYL president Julius Malema, speaking at the ANC Youth League’s elective conference this weekend, said that teachers must be well paid but shouldn’t be allowed to strike as they fall under essential services, according to an article in the Daily Maverick written by Political Guru Stephen Grootes.

Here in rural Zululand Malema’s comment that teachers shouldn’t strike is perhaps a bit optimistic. How about they just show up for work the rest of the year? When I worked at a rural primary school many years ago as an overwhelmed naive Umlungu (white person) in rural Zululand, the principal more often than not closed the school after first break, at ten ‘o clock and teachers sat around in the dust under a large tree talking.

I am back in the middle of nowhere in “deep rural“ Zululand and that principal is still working at that little red and white school years later- probably doing as little as she did before. The debate about whether teachers can strike or not or if politicians will stand up to the South African Democratic Teacher’s Union once and for all, is irrelevant when non Unionised teachers don’t even turn up for school here half the time.

Teachers at many rural schools are not qualified and many are writing Unisa (correspondence) exams. So the teachers get a day off to travel to the city to write the exam, a day for the exam and one to travel back home. A Peace Corps volunteer from America, working at two local rural Zululand schools, told me that a teacher hadn’t been at school for an entire month because of how many exams she has had to do.

Local Grade 12 learner Ketiwe who attends Ingwavuma’s Isecelosethu High School, which has a pretty bad rep here, says teachers miss classes often. After teachers have missed school, they return saying, “Good morning class, sorry I wasn’t here yesterday, but let’s continue where we left off.”
She says at least one of her seven subject teachers will be off every couple of days.

But it gets worse, because the curriculum keeps changing and teachers need training, they have frequent workshops with the Department of Education and all these workshops take place during school hours. A British teacher, Henry Thoulson who went to one of the best Universities in the world: St Andrews University in Edinburgh now teaches at a local poor primary school, without water, while his wife is working as a doctor at Mosveld hospital. He says the school is always short staffed because the teachers keep attending compulsory workshops. He says there is always a teacher or two missing work and the kids are left to their own devices. In fact since he spent the year at the school, more parents have sent their children to the school. His biggest complaint after the disappearance of the teachers is that there is no water at the school when there are pipes running to it and that the school children don’t wash their hands after going to the toilet. Then they eat lunch. There is no toilet paper either.

It blows my mind that the teachers go to Department of Education workshops in Jozini or Manguzi during work hours and so there are always shortages of staff at schools and unattended kids. So Malema, before politicians face off Sadtu in a debate over whether teacher’s have the right to strike or not, lets ask the KwaZulu Natal Education Department why they schedule teachers’ training days during school time?

Read about the dodgy textbooks at these schools here:

The reference about Malema comes from this article:


About Kat child

I am a journalist (big smile: I love saying that) and a coffee lover. I believe journalism should tell untold stories and give a voice to the voiceless. I love Cape Town, the beach, cheese, chocolate and Origin's cappucinos. I don't see the point of making one's bed and I wear odd socks.
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One Response to Malema’s optimism and teachers disappearing

  1. John Child says:

    First, let’s agree with Malema for a change. Teachers should not strike. While this may not apply much to rural KZN it certainly is a problem in much of the country. He is beginning to speak sense seeing the ill-discipline, laziness & corruption in SA.
    Second, let’s encourage teachers who are unqualified & are now studying through UNISA. That can only do good in the long run, other things being equal. Perhaps they could have the day before the exam to study & travel but no free day after the exam. They could travel back straight after the exam.
    Third, let’s agree with you that DOE workshops be held after teaching hours. Such workshops are important but school should wherever possible not be interrupted. Saturday too could be used.
    Fourth, while it is difficult for teachers to split on poor principals, concerned parents – I know there may not be many at such schools but there are bound to be some – should phone an education line & complain. Parents know from their kids if school ends early or if they constantly have absent teachers. Such an education line should modelled on crime line where one can give a tip off anonymously. The learners too should demand teacher attendance.
    Fifth, no toilet paper? That is just slack. I’m sure the govt provides money for such. Probably the school has used the money for something else. Else raise money locally.

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