School governing body congress welcomes essential service decision
The National Congress of School Governing Bodies (NCSGB) welcomed the ANC's decision to have education declared an essential service.
The congress resolved during its national policy conference last year that the government should investigate making education an essential service, NCSGB secretary-general Monokoane Hlobo said.
"The same recommendation was even fowarded to the ruling party to consider it during its conferences," he said.
"We are of the view that this matter will have to be discussed with all stakeholders in education. We are proud that our recommendation has been taken forward by the ruling party."
The ANC announced after its national executive committee meeting on Monday it would make sure education was declared an essential service.
Various teacher unions, including the SA Democratic Teachers' Union, were opposed to the idea.
The SA Onderwysersunie (SAOU) said the proposal would violate the current local and international definition of an essential service.
"In terms of the International Labour Organisation, essential services refer to those careers that will result in life or death if labour is withdrawn," SAOU said in a statement.
Education did not fall in this category, it said.
"We agree that education is in crisis... but we can never agree to a political decision that will impact negatively on fundamental rights as contemplated in the Bill of Rights," said the SAOU.
The National Health and Allied Workers' Union said the proposal needed more engagement and less "public bluster".
"We will welcome an opportunity of a sit-down between parties in the education sector and the ANC in order for the proposal to be clearly explained," it said in a statement.
It called on all parties to discuss how to rehabilitate the education system.