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Teachers Who Refuse Vaccine Have Rights, Says Department

person receiving vaccine injection

The release of a circular has left the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to answer for allegations that teachers will lose their jobs if they do not agree to be vaccinated.

Basic Education spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga said a recent article based on a circular sent out by the department has misled people. 

“The ‘no jab, no job’ narrative emanating from an article carried in a Johannesburg-based newspaper earlier this week, has created confusion and fear among educators,” said Mhlanga in a statement.

 He said the article has been causing fear among educators who have not yet been vaccinated. This comes after the department finished its vaccine rollout before the reopening of schools. 

By the end of the department's rollout, a total of 517 000 education personnel had been vaccinated. This is less than the target of 582 000 that the department had originally set.  

“Others could not get vaccinated because of various reasons including illness, COVID-19 positive cases, flu vaccines and hesitancy. When schools reopened last week for principals and management teams, the department issued a circular to assist in managing cases where some teachers did not vaccinate.

Mhlanga clarified that the circular that was sent out by the Department did not state that educators would be forced to be vaccinated. 

He said the department only strongly advised educators to accept the vaccine. 

“The purpose of Circular 4 of 2021, dated 23 July 2021 and signed by the Director-General, Mathanzima Mweli, was to provide guidance regarding the operational requirements for educators employed in terms of the Employment of Educators Act of 1998 following the implementation of the Basic Education Sector COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. The circular also serves as a guide to managing vulnerable employees in the context of the current pandemic,

“In fact in the circular the department says that it respects the rights of educators who opt not to be vaccinated on constitutional, religious, cultural, comorbidity or medical grounds,” Mhlanga explained.

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