The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) has urged all its eligible members to get vaccinated. This is because there is still no information on when wall teachers will become eligible for the jab.
Research shows that over 3500 teachers have died from coronavirus related complications country wide.
Mugwena Maluleke, SADTU general secretary said the union is very clear about their position that all teachers have to be vaccinated. We are also encouraging all those teachers who are eligible for vaccination to register.
“We have said please allow yourself and take that particular decision as an individual to be vaccinated because we need to save lives,” said Maluleke.
Maluleke added that there has been constant communication with teachers from the union to get vaccinated.
He added: “We have communication with the department of [basic] education. The Department of Education is not responsible for vaccinations and therefore, we need to be able to send a very clear message to the National Command Council that is responsible for this as well as those responsible for the vaccine.
“We are working day and night to make sure that the message is sent through to say enough is enough, we cannot have our children not being taught because the teachers are not well,” said Maluleke.
Maluleke added that the union believed that teachers would be the next group vaccinated after healthcare workers and that the vaccine rollout has been confusing.
“We are demanding for a date for teacher vaccinations to take place and we encourage teachers to register,” he said.
The call to prioritize teachers in Covid-19 education responses is not new.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has also urged all countries to prioritize teachers in national COVID-19 vaccine rollout plans to ensure education can continue safely and schools remain open.
As early as March 2020, the International Taskforce on Teachers for Education 2030 launched an international Call for Action on Teachers to highlight critical measures that countries should take to support teachers in the global pandemic, including the “protection of teachers’ and students’ health, safety and well-being”.
This was reaffirmed during the Extraordinary session of the Global Education Meeting, convened by UNESCO in October 2020, where Heads of State and Ministers committed to support all teachers and education personnel as frontline workers, and to prioritize their health and safety.
On 14 December 2020, UNESCO and Education International urged countries to include teachers as a priority group in national vaccination rollout plans to curb the spread of Covid-19 and protect teachers and students in an effort to ensure the continuation of learning and a safe return to in-person teaching.
However, this has still not been done in South Africa.
Maluleke said SADTU has been patient given that healthcare workers needed to be first prioritised, “but now government needs to provide clearer communication on what’s next”.
The general secretary said teachers are also front-line workers.
Professor Mary Metcalfe said anyone can register “now” for the vaccination.
“We need to push for a special registration category for teachers and to prioritize their vaccination.
“We will soon know when teachers are able get the vaccine as a group and as front-line critical workers serving the national interest,” she said.