Regular testing of teachers an insult to teachers - SADTU

Union responds to recommendations of the National Planning Commission


SADTU has received the recommendations on education and training by the National Planning Commission with caution.  The aim of our response is to provide constructive inputs to the commission so that its final recommendations can be based on the true picture of the challenges confronting the sector. We comment on the following

Two years of pre-schooling:  We welcome this as it is our belief that a good foundation in education yields to good grasp of secondary and tertiary education. The bold prescription by the NPC must be: make all pre-school facilitators and Early Childhood educators permanent so that we can have stability and certainty at the ECD level. Teachers in this phase must be fully qualified with the full support of the government.

Political and union interference in appointments: SADTU's role is that of ensuring that proper processes are followed in the appointment/promotion of teachers and district officials. The recommendation should deal with those responsible for employment such as the SGB and the District office to perform their duties in the best interest of our country and not to allow improper influence.

Increase teacher training by Funza Lushaka bursaries:  While we welcome the bursaries, we maintain that we don't believe that the universities have the capacity to train the number of teachers needed. Our universities have abandoned research in favour of making profits. We therefore reiterate our call for the re-opening of teacher colleges to have focused and dedicated training.

We welcome the recommendation to build new universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape and a new medical school in Limpopo.

Regular testing of teachers: The regular testing of teachers in subjects they teach is an insult to teachers. Instead, teachers should undergo regular refresher courses on the subjects they teach. The recommendation is based on preconceived ideas and not on the reality faced by teachers. This will add to the low morale the teachers are already suffering from because the policies are de-professionalizing teaching.

Change process of appointment of principals and set minimum qualifications: The Department proposed an ACE course as a primary requirement for principals. Many principals have completed ACE in Education, Management and Governance.  Principals and teachers have spent large sums of money and their time trying to upgrade themselves in their careers trying to upgrade themselves only to find that the goal posts get shifted. These many changes eventually lead to despondency. We would like to see principals given more powers to administer schools but the department should be clear about what they want from principals.  

Linking of teacher pay to learner performance improvement:  This would be unfair as learner performance improvement does not lie with the teacher only. Factors such as the availability of resources, socio-economic status, language, parental involvement, school leadership and management, have an impact on the learners' academic performance. This proposal comes from the IMF prescriptions that have been rejected by the Education International - a teacher federation representing more than 30 million teachers and education personnel globally. It is unachievable.

In the past decade, South Africa has seen major education reforms which began with curriculum changes. These were introduced without adequate teacher professional development. As a result, most teachers misunderstood and misinterpreted what they were supposed to do in this new education dispensation. This therefore had a negative impact on the learners' academic performance. More emphasis should be placed on teacher professional development.

Granting of work permits to foreigners who graduate from a registered South African University: The employment of foreign teachers should be a short term measure to fill in gaps on scares skills subjects and learning areas.  These teachers should be subjected to the same conditions of service as South African teachers. Meanwhile, government should train more South African teachers in these subjects.

Statement issued by SADTU General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, November 13 2011

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