Matric Exam leak

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Basic Education Dept: Teachers won’t get fired for refusing vaccines

The Department of Basic Education says some teachers could not get vaccinated due to illness, being COVID-19 positive and hesitancy

Matric Exam leak

Image via Adobe Stock

With schooling now underway for the third term, the Department of Basic Education has reiterated that teachers who do not want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, will neither be forced to get their jabs, nor get axed.

The department has set the record straight, in the wake of media reports claiming otherwise.

“The Department of Basic Education has noted with concern the misleading reports and misinformation regarding the circular it distributed to schools last week. The “no jab, no job” narrative emanating from an article carried in a Johannesburg-based newspaper earlier this week has seemingly created confusion and fear among educators,” said spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

The department had aimed at vaccinating 582 000 teachers, however only 517 000 got their jabs.

“Others could not get vaccinated because of various reasons including illness, COVID-19 positive cases, flu vaccines and hesitancy,” Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga added that the department is aware of an extract of a seven-page circular signed by its director-general Mathanzima Mweli. He says it has been causing “unnecessary anxiety and panic” amongst educators who have not been jabbed.

“The Department has strongly recommended that education sector personnel should get vaccinated but at no stage did DBE seek to compel employees to be vaccinated. In fact in the circular the Department says that ‘it respects the rights of educator who opt not to be vaccinated on constitutional, religious, cultural, comorbidity or medical grounds.’”

The Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga

Basic Education Dept sets record straight on vaccinations

The Department of Basic Education has further encouraged teachers (vaccinated or not) to apply for leave, should they be concerned about their comorbidities or medical condition.

Mhlanga says where the educators are not in a position to satisfactorily perform their duties, due to their medical conditions, such matters will be handled in terms of the Labour Relations Act read in conjunction with the Employment of Educators Act.

“The latter provides that an employer is obligated to take an employee through the ordinary incapacity procedures which provide for a set of steps that an employer needs to follow to try and accommodate the educator in the work environment. Dismissal for operational requirements or incapacity is regarded as the last resort,” he says.