Grade R teachers don’t want to be left out

Johannesburg - Gauteng Grade R teachers took to the streets of the Joburg CBD on Monday to protest against their exclusion from the school system.

The student teachers, who get a stipend of R5 000 a month, claim they have not had an increase since 2010. They have also been promised since 2006 to be registered permanently as Education Department employees.

Grade R teachers protested in the Joburg CBD because the Department of Education hasnt delivered on its promise to integrate them into the system. Photo: Antoine de Ras. Credit: THE STAR

Spokeswoman for the group Petronella Kandane said the department had failed to deliver on promises to integrate them formally into the education system.

“All we get is promises. They are expecting us to study to become teachers, but we cannot afford to do so on this small stipend we earn.

“We are going to protest today to show our unhappiness with the situation,” she said, adding that about 6 000 teachers across the province were affected.

Kandane said the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) had done nothing to assist them.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said their hands were tied.

“We have done all we can to assist them. The Education Department is not negotiating in good faith. We are awaiting a response from the department about their formal integration into the education system,” he said.

Gauteng Department of Education spokeswoman Phumla Sekhonyane said they were in the process of taking the practitioners into the department.

They were initially taken in by the Social Development Department as part of its early-childhood education strategy.

“Now they are hired directly by the school governing bodies and we pay their stipends, but we are trying to integrate them in terms of a national policy which is looking at making Grade R compulsory,” said Sekhonyane.