NEWS & ANALYSIS

Parliament rejects sub-standard SACE reports – DA

Party says Council made no attempt at addressing the violations of the ethical code for teachers

DA gets sub-standard SACE reports rejected in Parliament

14 April 2015

In today’s meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, the South African Council for Educators (SACE) presented their Annual Performance Plan and Strategic Plan.

Based on numerous concerns with the plans I proposed that the reports not be accepted and both reports were resoundingly rejected.

SACE is the body responsible for registering all teachers, enhancing professionalism, managing continuous professional teacher’s development, enforcing the code of ethics, doing relevant research and advising the Minister.

The 5-year strategic plan is written in such vague terms that SACE can never be held to account based on the plan. General statements of intent were made with no firm targets or time frames. 

The report in fact neglects SACE's core functions entirely, for example:

No targets are set for the registration of teachers 

No targets set to clear the backlog of teachers who are yet to be registered

No targets have been set for the further development of teachers

No targets have been set to promote ethical conduct among teachers

At the heart of a quality education system are quality teachers. As the body trusted with keeping track of and enhancing teacher’s skill, SACE’s inability to present comprehensive plans to the Portfolio Committee is deeply worrying.

The Department of Basic Education partially funds SACE to the tune of approximately R13 million, and should be exercising its oversight role vigorously. The Department should not accept a plan that does not reflect the professionalism and excellence that is to be expected of a body such as SACE. Therefore a fair share of the blame for the sub-standard nature of the reports must be laid at the door of the DBE.

In both the Annual Performance Plan and the Strategic Plan SACE referred to their mandate from "The High Honourable J Zuma and the ruling party, the African National Congress". The DA and other opposition parties objected to this blatant political bias. It is well known that the SACE council is dominated by SADTU unionists, so this conflation between party and state does not surprise us. It is nevertheless unacceptable.

The role of SACE is critical. However, as it stands none of their responsibilities are being effectively managed or executed.

The acting Chairperson of the Committee instructed SACE to revise the reports and to present them to the Portfolio Committee as soon as possible. I look forward to the revisions and hope that meaningful targets will be included.

Statement issued by Annette Lovemore MP, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, April 14 2015

Update:

SACE not serious about protecting our children from predators 

15 April 2015

Yesterday the South African Council for Educators (SACE) presented their Annual Performance Plan (APP) and 5-year Strategic Plan to the Portfolio Committee on Basic education without making any attempt at addressing the violations of the ethical code for teachers. 

I will be meeting with the CEO of SACE to address this lack of commitment to protecting our children from those teachers who abuse them.

While the APP and 5-year Strategic Plan were rejected by the Committee due to their sub-standard nature, it is very worrying that the body responsible for enforcing the code of ethics and ensuring that those teachers entrusted with our children are fit to do so, did not address this issue in these critical documents. 

The plans did not address:

Teachers with invalid registration certificates nor commitment to make sure they do not get re-employed 

Plans to make sure every case of sexual or physical abuse is reported and dealt with provincially and also reported to SACE

A commitment to make sure sexual offenders face criminal consequences

I recently highlighted the fact that almost 380 000 teachers employed in public schools had not been vetted against the Child Protection Register. This is of great concern considering that between April 2014 and February 2015, 525 complaints of physical, verbal and sexual abuse by educators were reported.

In addition, just last month a reply to a DA parliamentary question revealed that there are 20 000 students in our education system that are pregnant, of which 717 are primary school children. This indicates high levels of statutory rape by legal definition. It is our contention that some of these instances are at the hands of teachers and principals and it is critically important that the real nature of how these pregnancies came to be is exposed. 

All qualified teachers must be registered with SACE and vetted against the Child Protection Register by them. 

In the meeting I will seek a commitment from SACE to ensure they get access to the Sex Offenders list against which to further vet teachers and also to ensure that Provincial Education Departments report all incidences of sexual or physical assault to the police.

Furthermore all principals or designated persons who are entrusted with the reporting of abuse must be held accountable if they do not report any such cases especially with primary school learners as this is statutory rape. 

The safety and well-being of our children must be made a priority by SACE.

Statement issued by Sonja Boshoff MP, DA Member on Basic Education Portfolio Committee, April 15 2015

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