Angie Motshekga supports calls to vaccinate teachers but can't commit to a date yet

02 June 2021 - 10:00
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/The Sunday Times Basic education minister Angie Motshekga.

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga has supported calls for teachers to be vaccinated but admits there is no rollout schedule to do so, amid fears of the looming third wave of infections.

The minister said though there is a lot of “sympathy” around the issue and her department has advocated for teachers to be prioritised, members of the SA Police Service and SA National Defence Force are also considered front-line workers.

“The minister of health has committed that as soon as he gets certainty regarding the availability of the vaccines, he will prioritise front-line workers. Whether it's on a certain date in June, we hope so, but I can't commit myself here and say we have agreed on this date with the minister,” said Motshekga.

Speaking after receiving her jab on Tuesday, the minister said the vaccination of teachers and other front-line workers will depend on the availability of vaccines. 

“I've raised the issue with the minister of health and the cabinet is very supportive. There are plans to make sure that not only teachers but all front-line workers, your teachers, police, and home affairs people are being prioritised,” she said. 

Basil Manuel of The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) and SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) spokesperson Mugwena Maluleke said teachers should be prioritised. 

Manuel said the union would pressure the government to prioritise the vaccination of teachers, particularly those with comorbidities.

Manuel said contrary to what the minister said about other government employees being front-line workers, teachers were at a higher risk because they deal with large numbers of people at a time, on a daily basis. 

“The vaccination of teachers will serve more than one purpose. Vaccinating teachers will encourage other people to join the queue because we are community leaders. The vaccination of teachers settles the mind of parents,” he said.