090510 Bobby Soobrayan, national director-general of basic education, has commended KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Education for showing a significant increase in last year’s pass rate.

Pretoria - Disgruntled SA Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) members protested in Pretoria on Tuesday, demanding the axing of basic education director general Bobby Soobrayan.

Around 200 people, escorted by police, blocked off the entrance to Sol Plaatjie House along Struben Street.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the action would be followed up with other strikes until Soobrayan quit.

“Bobby must understand the basics, he should just go. He should leave the department to ensure that the future of our children is safe,” said Maluleke.

“We are here to say to Minister of 1/8Basic 3/8 Education Angie Motshekga ÄBobby has been lying to the nation that teachers have received laptops, while we haven’t. Bobby does not have the competency or the capacity to ensure textbooks are there in our schools.”

He said the teacher union would resist the notion of declaring education an essential service. The idea was mooted by the African National Congress.

“We are here to say we will not allow education to be declared an essential service. Do not declare education an essential service, rather deliver the resources we want in the classrooms,” he said.

If education was declared an essential service, teachers' right to protest would be curtailed, as in the military or health sector.

Secretary general of student union Cosas, Tshiamo Tsotetsi, also criticised the proposal to declare education an essential service.

“Even on a day of excitement, we can never agree that education must be made essential, as long the child of Baba Mthembu does not go to the same school as that of Van der Merwe,” he said.

“You must not take the halfway (road) to solutions. We have problems in our schools Ä you come up with sexy terms like 'education must be an essential service'.”

Tsotetsi said only quality education would be a sufficient tool to combat inequality and poverty.

He threatened “mass action”, if the idea of classifying education an essential service was moved further along.

“We will go and disrupt schools where students of Van der Merwe attend. We will take students in the township schools to come and do their extra-mural activities in the towns and private schools,” he said.

Despite regulations preventing workers in essential services from striking, South Africa has witnessed several protests by workers in these sectors over the years. - Sapa