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Natu petitions for free education for teachers’ children

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Published Sep 12, 2016

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Durban - The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) on Sunday appealed for 100 000 signatures from its members and those of other teacher unions in a bid to secure free education for teachers’ children.

On Sunday, Natu deputy president, Allen Thompson, told the Daily News that the call for free education was decided at the union’s policy conference held in Ulundi on Friday.

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Thompson said public servants, and teachers in particular, were treated unfairly by the government.

“We also want quality free education for our kids. Questions have been asked why teachers resign in such huge numbers? They resign because they can’t take their kids to university, education is expensive.

“They cash their pension to pay for education because some have more than one child. There is a call from all corners of society to provide free education and we know public servant’s children won’t qualify because they are deemed to be earning enough. This is not the case and we don’t want to be fitted under the “missing middle” category in the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) but we want free tertiary education for our children too,” said Thompson.

More than 5 000 teachers attended the policy conference whose resolutions would be tabled to Higher and Basic Education ministers.

“We have a situation where university lecturers earn more than school teachers, yet lecturers are exempted from paying fees in universities.

“Why can’t we have the same system, because we are employed by the same government? Why are university lecturers exempted from paying fees, yet they earn enough, in fact they earn more than teachers and their kids study free?”

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Another issue raised at the conference was the dissolution of the Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems).

“Gems is collapsing; its solvency rate now is 9.34% whereas the requirements of the Council for Medical Aid requires a 25% solvency rate. In 2014 this rate was a mere 10.02 %, an indication that the scheme was incapable of servicing its members. Implications of this are that if you were to go to the doctor in March, chances are your savings have been depleted,” he said.

He said the employer contributed R3 804 for Gems members and only R1 014 for non-members.

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“It is these inequalities that we want dealt with. We want a buy-in from other teacher unions because this affects all of us. We need 100 000 signatures and then we will take the matter up with the relevant departments,” he said.

South African Democratic Teacher’s Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke, said they were preparing their own submission on how employees in the teaching profession should be assisted.

“We cannot have a situation where other students are left out because their parents can’t afford to finance fees. We have made an appeal to the minister of Higher Education to review the criteria of NSFAS allocation for the benefit of all,” he said.

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Higher Education spokeswoman, Busiswa Nongogo, today said she needed time to get factual information.

Daily News

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