EUSA calls for matric markers to receive Covid-19 vaccine
DURBAN – THE EDUCATORS Union of South Africa has stood firm on its call for more than 45 000 teachers marking matric papers to be vaccinated and threatened to litigate on any marker who contracted Covid-19 while working at the marking centre.
However, other teacher unions dismissed this call as the vaccine was unavailable in South Africa just yet. Matric marking started in most parts of the country today, while marking in the Western Cape and the Northern Cape started at the weekend.
EUSA general secretary Simphiwe Mpungose believed it would be possible for the country to arrange vaccines for markers as Aspen Pharmacare has a manufacturing facility in SA.
In November last year, Aspen Pharmacare agreed to provide the necessary capacity required for the manufacture of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate at its existing sterile facility in Port Elizabeth.
“The same Aspen is rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine in the US. Remember in South Africa over 27 000 lives have been lost undeservedly because we rush people into work then take no responsibility when they die,” said Mpungose.
Contrary to Mpungose’s statement, Aspen does not have any involvement in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga had on Friday issued a new set of directions and protocols as part of the department’s final preparations before the marking of the 2020 matric exam papers.
The directions provided a set of guidelines for teachers, education officials and administration staff involved in the marking process.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last Monday the country would receive the Covid-19 vaccine to cover 10% of the citizens in the early parts of this year.
The SA Democratic Teachers Union yesterday said it would “not play to the gallery” and say things they knew were not possible.
“Where is the vaccine? Is there a vaccine in South Africa? As a recognised teacher union, we invited the department to our marker empowerment workshop so that they could share with all of us their readiness and preparations for marking. Sadtu would like to see all marking centres complying with the Covid-19 regulations,” said Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said South Africa had not yet approved any Covid-19 vaccine, hence inoculating markers was not possible.
Naptosa provincial spokesperson Thirona Moodley said the marking process must not be compromised.
“We cannot afford to have marking centres closed due to large-scale infections. The best safety protocols will not be safe if markers do not follow them. If markers are blatantly ignoring the protocols, they will be endangering the health and safety of others, these markers will have to be held accountable,” said Moodley.
She said the Department of Basic Education had given the undertaking it was possible to keep markers safe at these marking centres and at the hostels.
She said the marking centres, like anywhere outside of the safety of our homes, could be a source of infections if stringent Covid-19 safety protocols were not observed.
Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the department had consulted key stakeholders in the education sector, including teachers, who agreed the protocols as published were the best way forward under the circumstances.