NATIONAL NEWS - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Monday said they were giving the Department of Higher Education and Training five days to address the low levels of readiness of tertiary institutions prior to their opening.
In a statement, Nehawu said that they were worried about the state of readiness of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and community education and training (CET) for the reopening.
“We are not satisfied by the state of readiness of TVET colleges and CET for the reopening for the 2021 academic calendar.
“We have written to the Department of Higher Education and Training to vent our anger at the low levels of readiness for the reopening of colleges. Our clarion call is very clear ‘do not abuse workers by calling them back to unsafe campuses’,” the statement read.
Nehawu’s spokesperson Khaya Xaba said that following the Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande’s announcement that post-school education and training institutions would reopen on 18 January 2021, reports had shown that most institutions were far from being ready.
“The national union convened a bargaining forum to assess the state of readiness of these institutions. Reports received at the meeting revealed that most institutions are far from being ready to welcome workers and students into campuses,” said Xaba.
Xaba also said that most colleges struggled with the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for both the students and employees, and they did not have enough space to practise social distancing.
“Colleges are struggling with the intermittent supply of personal protective equipment with some lectures resorting to using their own money to buy masks and sanitisers for themselves and for the students who don’t afford to buy masks.
“Furthermore, most colleges do not have working thermometers to scan the temperature of those who access the campuses,” said Xaba.
Xaba lamented that despite the approval of R45.7 million by Treasury to address the lack of cleaning services, most of these colleges still had shortages of cleaners.
“As far as we know, no college has formed health and safety committee and thermometers are also not working which makes it impossible to scan the temperature of those who access the colleges,” said Xaba.