Pretoria - Hundreds of fed-up teachers and officials of the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) have called for the head of Department of Basic Education director-general Bobby Soobrayan.
“Run, Bobby, run,” the crowd of about 400 picketers shouted outside the department’s head offices in Struben Street on Tuesday.
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said: “We will not be quiet. This (picket) is only phase one.”
Picketers danced and chanted at the gate to the offices.
“We have to wait and see if anyone comes out to acknowledge us,” said Nomusa Cembi, communications official for Sadtu.
He demanded that all corrupt officials be shown the door.
“We do not want our children under trees, we want proper resources to teach them,” Maluleke said.
He called on Soobrayan to leave the department to “ensure the safety of children’s education”.
Schoolchildren had a right to education and not providing it was “unlawful and unconstitutional”, he said.
Staffing and wages in rural areas, the teacher-pupil ratio, and the permanent employment of temporary teachers were also among issues the protesters raised.
“We cannot deal with more than 40 pupils to a teacher. Bring back temporary teachers and make them permanent,” one member said.
The picketers also demanded that teachers in rural areas be given allowances to cover their travelling costs and other costs associated with working in outlying areas.
Picketers wore red shirts bearing messages such as “No to mud schools”, “Build libraries” and “Absorb temporary teachers”.
“Some rural areas have mud houses as schools. We say ‘No’ to that. We want proper facilities,” said Cembi.
Printed posters demanded that education not be declared an essential service.
“We say ‘No’ to declaring education an essential service. Rather deliver the resources, then we can teach our children,” Maluleke said.
Cembi claimed Soobrayan had signed two collective bargaining agreements, but had failed to honour them for the past four years.
“Collective bargaining is the best way to solve disputes,” Maluleke said. “If disputes are not resolved, it will disrupt education.”
Sadtu representatives from North West, Limpopo and the Northern Cape also took part in the picket.
The picket was legal.
Traffic was disrupted to the extent that one lane in Struben Street had to be closed.