The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) is concerned at allegations of teachers bunking school to attend court cases involving members of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), it said on Wednesday.
“This comes at a time when there is a critical skills shortage, when youth unemployment is at an all-time high and when the recent diagnostic report of the National Planning Commission recognises that the education system is failing South African youth,” SACCI president Chose Choeu said in a statement.
“The lack of commitment by teachers to play their role … contributes significantly to the obstacles that the youth face in their search for rewarding careers,” he said.
The Democratic Alliance claimed earlier in the week that more than 50 teachers bunked school to attend a court appearance of Sadtu official Moss Senye. “This is despite disciplinary action having been taken against teachers who attended previous court cases,” DA education spokesman for Gauteng Khume Ramulifho said in a statement.
Education department spokesman Charles Phahlane said, “There may well have been 50 people at court but how does the DA know that those people were teachers?”
He said if the names and schools of the alleged teachers were provided, the department would look into it.
Sadtu spokeswoman Nomusa Cembi said the union did not sanction teachers’ attendance of the court proceedings.
“Our provincial office told members that the leadership would attend and report back to ordinary members,” she said.
Senye appeared with teacher Ofentse Phehle for allegedly assaulting a 17-year-old pupil.
In March, Sadtu members blocked the entrance to Meadowlands Magistrate’s Court before Senye’s appearance.
Last week, the case was moved to Protea Magistrate’s Court because of security concerns.
Choeu said Sacci called on the department of education to take disciplinary action against the teachers.
It also called on Sadtu not to condone members’ actions that “place the future of those in their care at risk”.
Teachers had to put the needs of their pupils first, said Choeu. — Sapa
The original version of this report, received from the South African Press Association, did not make clear that the bunking allegation was made by Democratic Alliance education spokesperson for Gauteng Khume Ramulifho in a statement issued earlier in the week. This has been rectified.