Johannesburg - Children from schools in township and rural areas bore the brunt of the SA Democratic Teachers Union march on Wednesday.
Education Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said that from the reports the department had received, “it goes without saying that learners who were affected are exclusively children from poor communities”.
When The Star visited Soweto schools as thousands of teachers marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria and to parliament in Cape Town, some pupils were already going back home and waiting for taxis to pick them up by 10am.
Other children were in their casual clothing and said they were told not to go to school for the day.
At schools in the northern side of Joburg, however, there were no major disruptions to teaching and learning.
Governors’ Alliance secretary Kathy Callaghan said that at schools which weren’t impacted, the teachers weren’t part of the Sadtu march, and plans were made to cover for those who were.
At Meadowlands High School, teachers were at the school but no teaching was taking place. Teachers and pupils were not in the classrooms, and some pupils opted to leave.
Two pupils from the school were seen walking to a nearby shop and said they had been sent by a teacher to buy food.
At Tlhokomelo Primary School, also in Meadowlands, there were no teachers.
An auxiliary worker at the school said teachers did not arrive and children were busying themselves with homework. Some of the pupils were playing on the playground.
At another Meadowlands primary school, Dzata, teachers were at the school but they did not teach for the full day.
Pupils, who were readying to go back home well before lunchtime, said they had had a few lessons in the morning, but their teachers told them they could go home after the lunch break.
At Veritas Secondary, Lamula Jubilee Secondary and Morris Isaacson High, teachers were at the schools but weren’t teaching.
Pupils from Thubelihle Junior Secondary in White City Jabavu said only a few of their teachers showed up. The pupils said that after the morning assembly, they were told to go home.
At Jabulani Technical Secondary School, the few teachers who did show up did not stay for long.
“Only a few teachers came but they left soon after… they were wearing their (union gear),” one of the pupils said.
DA Gauteng education spokesman Khume Ramulifho said the march had affected pupils from informal settlements and poor backgrounds.
“I visited schools in Diepkloof, Meadowlands, Orlando, Pimville and Cosmo City in the morning to assess the impact of Sadtu’s latest politically motivated strike action. Teaching and learning at many of these secondary schools were disrupted,” he said.
Ramulifho said there were no disruptions in the four suburban schools he visited in Sandton, Randburg and Fourways.
He said the fact it was mostly township schools that were affected showed that parents in township areas were right when they say strikes always impact schools in their areas because the teachers’ children go to former Model C schools.
National Association of Parents in School Governance chairman Mahlomola Kekana said the association was disappointed at the teachers’ conduct.
“Teaching didn’t take place in Soweto schools. A lot of the teachers didn’t go to the march but they didn’t teach… we are disappointed in the manner in which they approached this.
“Sadtu didn’t consult school governing bodies and the parents, they just abandoned the children,” he said.
Kekana said the work-to-rule action that the union is also engaged in was affecting the Secondary School Improvement Plan.
The programme provides extra lessons on weekends and school holidays to Grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils from high schools with a matric pass rate below 80 percent.
Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools deputy provincial manager Martin Human said that from the information the federation received from their member schools in Gauteng at schools in town, “there seemed to be little to no disturbance”, unlike schools in the townships.
Roger Million, executive officer responsible for the Governing Body Foundation’s inland member schools, which is mostly made up of former Model C schools, said none of their 350 Gauteng schools was affected.