JONATHAN JANSEN | ‘Just suck it up’: how a teacher’s passion conquers a pandemic

They don’t do it for the money. For them it is not a job - ‘it is who I am and what I am’

07 October 2020 - 19:39

As happens every day, this past Monday, October 5, about 410,000 teachers showed up to teach 12,9 million children spread across 25,000 schools in SA. Monday was World Teachers Day, but this year there was little to celebrate. In today’s column I want to lift the veil on what actually happens in the life of a teacher in the middle of a pandemic that has already taken from us teachers, principals and other staff who work in schools.

Mary* went into shock when the face of her boss, Principal Penny*, suddenly appeared on a video call. It did not help that the principal’s first words were “You’re not being fired”. Mary relaxed a bit; “maybe it’s not that bad,” she said to herself. The principal wanted to tell Mary directly that her already modest pay was about to be slashed. Parents were not paying fees during the lockdown. As a teacher appointed by the school governing body (SGB), this meant that the school had no choice but to cut salaries. The number Mary heard was 40%. The school would try its best to do better than that. There would be applications to TERS, the UIF/Covid-19 benefits paid out by the department of employment and labour...

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