Protest against Systemic Tests is lawful – SADTU

Union firmly believe that these tests need to be scrapped

SADTU Western Cape protest against Systemic Tests is lawful

27 October 2016

The union welcomes the order issued by the High Court of South Africa (Western Cape Division, Cape Town) where the employer claimed that SADTU was acting unlawfully in their protest against systemic tests in the province.

The relief WCED sought was for SADTU, COSAS and parents not to come within 500m radius of the testing schools which our learned council regarded as an over the air relief and not specific. If the relief was granted, it would mean that parents could not accompany their learners to school; they may not visit their neighbours within a 500m radius of the school; learners and teachers would not be able to attend school on the day and everybody within the 500m radius of the school would be affected. Our learned council also argued that the action by SADTU to protest against Systemic Tests was lawful.

The order given by the High Court reiterates our position as SADTU that our members should not act in a violent or unlawful manner in exercising our legal right to protest against policies of the employer when we view them not to be of interest to improved education outcomes in the province.

As SADTU we reiterate our call for the protest against these tests albeit in a peaceful way as previously directed in previous statements and communications. We still firmly believe that these tests need to be scrapped and WCED needs to play their role in the strengthening of the national assessments which are in the process of revision.While waiting for the revised National Assessments, WCED needs to utilise the data obtained from more than ten years of Systemic Tests to inform the developmental needs of teachers. We still firmly believe that there is a dire need to increase the post basket and resources in schools with the savings from these Systemic Tests. WCED must look at other factors that impact learner outcomes, e.g. large classes, safety, inadequate resources, etc. They should also direct us and the public to the research which shows that writing Systemic Tests are directly linked to improved learner outcomes.

The stance by the employer to reschedule the tests when they know that learners will be commencing with their final examinations which will determine whether they progress to the next grade is a clear indication that they do not care about our learners who will have to undergo two different assessments within a short space of time. Their concern is to ensure that the budget they set aside for these tests is spent regardless of the strain and suffering it places on the learners.

The struggle for quality public education continues.

Issued by Jonavon Rustin, Provincial Secretary, SADTU Western Cape Secretariat, 27 October 2016