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Teachers are divided over mandatory jabs, says union

Picture:Filed

Picture:Filed

Published Dec 9, 2021

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The Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) says educators are divided over mandatory jabs.

In a statement, The SAOU said in its anticipation of participating in this debate, they consulted nearly 38 000 members, where almost half of the members are in favour of the mandatory vaccination, while the other half believe that it should be done on a voluntary basis.

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“It is very clear that educators are just as divided and that it is very difficult to obtain a clear answer. However, it is evident that this matter will inevitably be determined by a ruling of the Constitutional Court which will have to decide on the weight of the individual’s right against the interest of the collective.”

The debate over compulsory vaccinations for every citizen has intensified over the past two weeks. It is clear that there is great division over this sensitive and complex issue. The debate focused mainly on two aspects, the need to make workplaces as safe as possible and with it the duty of every citizen to work together to create a safe environment.

On the other hand, there are strong arguments that the individual citizens’ constitutional right to physical and psychological integrity cannot be ignored for the collective interest of other citizens.

SAOU revealed, with the current uncertainty around the matter, the union has no choice but to maintain its original mandate to do everything possible to convince members to vaccinate themselves but on a voluntary basis.

According to a survey done by SAOU, the main reasons provided for the support of compulsory vaccination is that it is everyone's duty to society to work together and create a safer environment for all and create a safer work environment to avoid unnecessary disruption of the school’s programme.

On the other hand, the main reasons provided for continuing to approach vaccination on a voluntary basis is that it is every person's right under the Constitution to decide for oneself in the light of the right to physical and psychological integrity and vaccinations are not considered advisable due to an underlying medical condition for some members.

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Meanwhile, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said education could not be set apart from the rest of the country.

“We need to have mandatory vaccines throughout the country, not for education only but for all sectors in the country. Education can’t be set apart from the rest of the country. If it is about getting people safer, we have to get everybody vaccinated as soon as possible, ”said Basil Manuel, Naptosa spokesperson.

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