During a recent teachers strike, grade 10 to 12 pupils were asked to take a day off school to join in. The march was supposed to be against education inequality. According to The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (sadtu) the strike also aimed to pressure Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her director general Bobby Soobrayan to resign from their positions. They were also protesting about the Limpopo textbook saga, and school closures in the Western Cape. According to The Cape Times, provincial education MEC Donald Grant said the march was not in the best interests of pupils. “Once again, the best interests of learners are being placed at risk at what is for all of them a critical time in the academic year,” his spokesperson Bronagh Casey said. http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Pupils-asked-to-take-day-off-join-protest-20130423.
I have to agree with Casey on this matter. It is one thing for the teachers to march for their own reasons, but pupils should not be made to feel obligated in any way, and I feel, should be discouraged from doing such things. Especially as senior members of school, with important work to complete and learn, and also nearing exams, this can only be disruptive and unproductive for the pupils. Why do they need to be involved in the teacher’s issues? The teachers should be looking out for their pupils’ best interests as this is their job first and foremost. First of all they are possibly compromising the safety of the children, as strikes do become violent at times. Secondly they need all of the school hours they can get, as pass rates in South African schools are often worryingly low as it is. Come on teachers, be real here.