The newly elected Eastern Cape SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) executive is demanding that all qualified Grade R teachers in the province be permanently employed with full benefits immediately.
It formed part of a resolution taken during their provincial congress, which ended last weekend in East London, secretary Chris Mdingi said.
Education MEC Mandla Makupula announced that 982 Grade R teachers would be absorbed on a permanent basis with full benefits in attempts to professionalise the sector.
Makupula said during his recent policy speech that more than 5 000 Early Childhood Development (ECD) or Grade R practitioners across the province were paid a stipend of R5 900 a month.
But Sadtu has rejected this as exploitation, saying it wanted the thousands of qualified Grade R teachers in the province to be employed with full benefits immediately.
“We demand as a union that all those ECD practitioners who are qualified teachers must be absorbed with immediate effect,” Mdingi said.
Sadtu said the ECD practitioners, some of whom were now qualified teachers with assistance from the Department of Education and others who helped them get the qualifications, had been exploited for far too long.
Mdingi said this was despite the majority of them having started ECD centres on their own.
He said the Department of Education then hijacked the ECD centres and attached them to schools.
Makupula said during his policy speech this month that 4 477 schools in the province had a Grade R class attached, with a total of 133 734 children.
But Sadtu believes these numbers are not correct.
The union also issued a stern warning to the department to stop the “willy-nilly” transfer of serving educators from one school to another.
The union said it had had enough of its members being tossed around from one school to the other by the department, which they accused of not sticking to proper guidelines.