As some desperate parents of school children identified pupils who might teach their peers in the absence of striking teachers, the basic education department claimed it would support schools during the work stoppage.
Mzimkhulu Hlalukana, the secretary general of the National Association of Parents in School Governance, said the association was worried about what would happen in schools in which teaching was significantly disrupted.
Grade 12s will write their final exams within two months and the 11 other grades also have end-of-year assessments around the corner.
“Hence our plan to identify learners as well as parents who will be able to assist in schools,” he told the Mail & Guardian.
The association’s membership is drawn largely from Gauteng, with some members in Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Limpopo.
“Many parents are professionals and can help,” Hlalukana said. “I am a teacher by profession myself and I can assist in teaching subjects like biology, history and English.”
But Granville Whittle, the spokesperson for the basic education department, said the “necessary mechanisms [were] in place to ensure that we can support schools during this time”.
“All our schools remain open,” he said. “We have asked parents and members of the community to assist with supervision.”
He said monitoring teams consisting of provincial and district officials were in place in all provinces “to assist schools when required”.
Information from these teams about last week’s one-day strike suggested that about 160 000 teachers in six provinces downed chalk, but details from KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo on the extent of last week’s stayaway were still outstanding, Whittle said.
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) urged striking teachers to use “physical force” if necessary to remove principals from schools that remained open during the strike, The Star reported on Thursday.
“Any school that remains open is declaring war on 1,3-million [public workers on strike],” Ronald Nyathi, the Sadtu regional spokesperson for Soweto, was quoted as saying.
Ezrah Ramasehla, the president of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, said his organisation would not tolerate intimidation.
“Our members are free to do what they want to do. If they want to work, they may do so if they so wish,” he said.
“We do emphasise that they ensure their safety and that of their learners,” he said.
Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi was unavailable for comment on Thursday afternoon.
“The basic education department’s approach was “to place the safety of learners first”, Whittle said.