South African teachers walk out of classrooms
Thousands of South African teachers downed their chalk and textbooks Wednesday and took to the streets to call for the education minister to step down amid threats of a full-blown strike.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) led marches in Cape Town and Pretoria and handed a list of demands to officials.
The unions want education minister Angie Motshekga, and her department's director general to quit and for collective bargaining to be recognised.
The union called on President Jacob Zuma to act within three weeks or face the potential of a full blown strike.
The labour umbrella group Cosatu has backed the teachers' action.
"If the government does not listen to the voices of the teachers today, we want to assure them that all of the members in Cosatu... will come and join you," Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich told marchers.
The under-fire ministry recently faced a major scandal over the failure to deliver textbooks to school children.
It also faces challenges over schooling results and resources such as schools which are built of mud walls.
The education ministry initially said the strike had a low impact.
"According to reports from provinces it seems in most parts of the country it has been a normal school day," it said in a statement in the morning.
In the North West province, seven schools were locked and 224 teachers were absent.
The Western Cape ministry of education said eight percent of its teachers took part in the protest with 48 schools closed, or just over three percent of the total.
© 2013 AFP