Mbabane: Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) is not satisfied that schools are ready to open on July 6 and the level of preparedness is ‘very low’.
SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini said as a union they are not against reopening schools but it is clear to everyone that schools are not ready to open next week because apparently all the 15 demands tabled by the association are not yet met by the Ministry of Education. Dlamini said government has not reached even 80 percent of preparedness to reopen schools as most schools more especially in the rural areas have not been provided with enough running water, teachers not provided with enough PPE.
In an interview with Independent News Eswatini, Dlamini said he is part and parcel of the Disaster Management Agency Task teams but he has not seen anything practically done by the Ministry of Education and Training in preparing to reopen schools. He said reopening schools need money so to become practical but up to date there is not specific amount set apart for preparing schools to reopen because even the E56 million that was raised by the Minister of Education and Training Lady Howard Mabuza has not been approved by the Parliament.
Dlamini went on to speak about the pictures of teachers who were captured scrubbing floors in schools on Monday saying this proved that government is undermining teachers in their profession. He said as a union they long proposed to the government to hire support staff to assist in cleaning the schools but still that has not happened.
Dlamini revealed that at some point the issue of teachers going beyond their job description comes down to the teachers hired on contracts. He said those teachers are easily intimidated by their principals to go overboard and do such tasks as cleaning because this teachers are fearing to lose their jobs because if their do not tore the line, the principals will not extend their contracts hence the teachers find it impossible to speak out on their job descriptions.
When sought for comment, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training Bertram Stewart said schools are ready to open on July 6. Stewart said government is already procuring water tanks so to provide scholars and teachers with running water. He added that he cannot entertain any issues in regard to the teacher’s union until they formally write to him.
Stewart said teachers were called back to schools to assist in preparing for reopening of schools. He said teachers are called to work together with parents and schools Committees to prepare the schools to be ready for return of scholars on Monday.