Basic education department clears the air on 'threat' to teachers who are not vaccinated
Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mahlangu has cleared the air amid fears teachers who have not taken Covid-19 vaccines may lose their jobs.
Speaking on Newzroom Afrika on Tuesday, Mahlangu said the department would “accommodate” and work with teachers who refused to get vaccinated for medical, constitutional, religious or cultural reasons.
Mahlangu said the department was looking at several options to keep working with teachers who are not vaccinated, with “letting teachers go” an absolute last resort.
“For medical reasons, teachers will have to submit a medical report to the department. The department has the right to use that report to make a decision on how teachers can be assisted by providing counsellors, and creating isolation spaces,” said Mahlangu.
“For cultural and other reasons, counselling will be made available and we are going to look at their responsibilities to see if they can work from home.”
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga said she hoped teachers who were not vaccinated would join other vaccination programmes under way.
“We still hope educators not yet vaccinated will join the general population vaccination programmes under way,” she said on Sunday.
Sunday Times reported that general secretary of the National Teachers' Union, Cynthia Barnes, slammed the department's move.
“This is very wrong, because even the president of the country said that the vaccinations are voluntary. We are living in a democratic country,” said Barnes
“The department is contradicting itself by saying vaccinating is not compulsory and at the same time forcing teachers to go for it.”
TimesLIVE reported that the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) vowed to fight for those unfairly dismissed for refusing to have the vaccine.
“We are exploring all available legal options and would like to see how best we can address the situation with affected employees and the implicated employers,” Gauteng commission head Buang Jones told TimesLIVE on Tuesday.
“This is an intervention which seeks to protect rights and hear the position of employers on this very important issue.”