Mbabane: Teachers affiliated to the Eswatini National Teachers Association (SNAT) have firmly stated that they cannot express their feelings pertaining to decisions made by the association. This comes in the wake of the teachers’ association directing its members not to go to schools during the reopening on Monday July 6, which, however, was ignored by the association’s members who started flocking to the learning institutions and prepared for the reopening.
The teachers’ association had had concerns regarding the safety of its members saying little or nothing had been done in readiness for classes. They had presented some grievances to the Ministry of Education and Training, which include but not limited to, lack of protective clothing for the teachers which would be used during and after the preparations. Some include the observing of protocol by the education ministry like the filling of forms which indicate the health condition of each teacher, to determine if whether or not a teacher deserved compensation in the event of sickness or injury. The teachers’ association through its secretary general, Sikelela Dlamini, stated that government should not be in the habit of ignoring employment laws like Section 9(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, which seeks an employer to ensure the conduciveness of the working place before workers can start operations.
Mbabane Central High School Deputy Principal, Audrey Mhlongo, mentioned that SNAT’s decisions are at administrative level and as teachers, they are barred from engaging the media or any entity without getting a go ahead from the national executive committee of the teachers’ association. Mhlongo was being sought for a comment regarding the NEC’s decision to prevent their members from setting their foot in schools during the reopening on July 6. Sharing the same sentiments was Fonteyn High School Principal, Alice Nzima, who said there could be a lot that she could say, but would keep her mouth shut in respect of protocol.
Teachers have been expressing different feelings about the reopening of schools, with some saying life was more valuable than education and safety comes first above everything else.
These teachers who asked not to be named said they were deeply concerned about preparedness in some schools, which show a low level. Some pointed out the level of hygiene in some schools, particularly in the rural set ups, saying it was not the same as those of urban areas. They suggested that the ministry of education needed to intensify the process of preparedness especially in the latter areas. Education Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, Bertram Steward, earlier said their inspection of schools showed ample preparedness and teachers did not have an excuse not to return to classes.