The DA will submit a request to the Essential Services Committee (ESC) next week and ask the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and her department to support our call to establish an essential service level for school staff.
The Department of Basic Education responded to a DA Parliamentary Question, saying that it would support the declaration of a minimum service level agreement for teachers by the ESC to ensure children are not left unsupervised during school hours.
Adult supervision plays a crucial role in ensuring our learners are safe at school. Having no teachers present at school and in class can lead to terrible outcomes, such as when a fight broke out between learners at Eldorado Park Secondary after teachers had left to attend an unplanned strike.
When five-year-old Lumka Mketwa from the Eastern Cape died in a pit toilet, the teacher wasn’t in class due to SGB elections being held. Her death could have been avoided had there been teacher supervision.
The DA believes that there must be a requirement for enough teachers to be present to supervise learners, and to provide guidance in emergency situations.
We consulted with the ESC in October last year on the issue so that they could advise us on the proper procedure for making a request for them to perform a study on the issue, and make a declaration regarding a minimum level of service. The ESC is responsible for making such declarations, not the government.
We included the declaration of key educational posts as essential services in our list of demands for school safety in a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, which any South African can sign at https://protectourchildren.co.za. National and provincial departments, and state entities, must work together to safeguard learners.
The safety of our children must always come first, and Minister Motshekga can help to ensure that children are protected from any harm by endorsing our request to the ESC.