SADTU disrupting systemic tests in WCape schools - Debbie Schäfer

MEC says her dept will be approaching the courts if union does not desist

Minister Schäfer warns SADTU to call off boycott of systemic tests.

A few weeks ago, the South Africa Democratic Teachers Union made a call for schools to boycott the WCED annual systemic tests which are currently being held across the Province.

As a teacher union, they have no authority to make such a call. In doing so, they are urging their members to act unlawfully, as the instruction requiring all schools in the Western Cape to ensure the tests are written is a lawful and annual instruction of the Department. Whilst they are welcome to discuss their views on these tests in the appropriate fora, and they do, it is ultimately a policy decision of the Western Cape Government that these tests be written.

Unfortunately, over the past week, since testing began on the 11th of October, a number of schools have reported to the WCED that they were unable to administer these tests due to disruptions caused by SADTU members.

While the percentage of schools affected is relatively small, we cannot and will not accept this kind of lawless and intimidatory behaviour in our schools. The disruptions are mainly in poor communities, which are ultimately affecting our poorer learners. Testing is still underway until the 25th of October and we shall have to re-schedule the tests that could not be written as scheduled.

The safety of our educators, learners and test administrators has been at risk on a number of occasions, whereby as a result of SADTU members' actions of intimidation, they have prohibited independent test administrators from entering school sites, prohibited schools from allowing the tests to continue, have caused disruption in classrooms, invading the testing facilities and traumatising learners and staff in the process.

In addition to the safety concerns, there will be additional costs for the WCED to reschedule tests that have been disrupted.

The WCED will also have to assess the damage to physical property as a result of SADTU actions.

The actions by SADTU therefore are:

  • A security risk to our learners and educators
  • A waste of taxpayers' money in terms of additional costs that will be incurred
  • Disruptive to each of the schools' education delivery, as failure to write the tests will result in the school being unable to plan Improvement interventions for next year. Without the detailed test results that indicate exactly what areas of the curriculum need attention, these plans cannot be formulated.
  • Taking education officials off other critical tasks at a time of the year that should be spent on moderating work, preparing for the NSC and for the 2017 school year.

My Acting Head of Department has thus last night sent a letter to SADTU, demanding that they cease these disruptions at our schools immediately and that they furnish us with an undertaking by 1pm tomorrow, Friday 21 October, that they will do so, failing which the WCED will be approaching court on Monday to apply for an interdict against them.

We are also calculating the costs that are being incurred as a result of this unlawful action and will be considering action to recover these from SADTU. It is ironic that the organisation that complains about the cost of systemic tests is the very organisation that is causing us to incur even more costs because of their actions.

We will not tolerate the disruption of our education system by parties that clearly have no interest in accountability for improving education, especially in poor communities.

Statement by Western Cape Minister Debbie Schäfer, Minister of Education, 20 October 2016