Teachers in South Africa are to start a go slow when the new term begins.

The teachers – who are members of the union SADTU – have many grievances, including the failure to honour agreements to improve pay for exam marking. For the time being they will only be doing teaching work and refusing to do any extra duties, however this may escalate into strike action if their demands are not met.

Teachers in South Africa often work in very difficult conditions, with oversized classes, meagre facilities and too often on -4290">temporary contracts. SADTU has demanded the resignation of the basic education minister, Angie Motshekga, saying that the morale of teachers was at an all time low.

Relationships with the ANC government have sunk to a very low point after the decision by the party to designate teaching an ‘essential service’, meaning it would be illegal for teachers to strike. SADTU issued a at the time, which said:

We don’t believe that declaring education as an essential service will address the challenges facing education. We have said many a times that problems confronting education are systematic and multifaceted. Targeting one component in the system which is the teachers will therefore not solve the problem. Problems confronting education need to be dealt with in a holistic manner.

We firmly believe that if problems of overcrowded classrooms, school violence, inadequate infrastructure and learning materials and under qualified teachers can be addressed, education in South Africa will improve significantly.

The urgent issues that need to be looked at are the conditions of teachers. Giving a R900 housing subsidy to a teacher is demeaning the profession. Having no sanitation at a school destroys the dignity of both the teachers and the learners and is a violation of a human right. Dealing with corruption and decisively so will guarantee quality education and is urgent rather than enriching bureaucracy. Providing sport and recreation facilities, libraries and laboratories are the most urgent issues that need to be addressed.