24 February 2013

South Africa: Sadtu Media Statement On Its First NEC Meeting

SADTU NEC calls for payment of markers and decisive leadership in the Department of Basic Education.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of SADTU has given the minister of Basic Education until Tuesday, 26 February to pay all the markers for the 2011 and 2012 marking sessions according to the 2011 collective Agreement which offered the markers a 100% increase. This was one of the decisions taken at the first meeting of the NEC for the year held in Kempton Park from 22 until 23 February, 2013.

Failure to pay the markers what is due to them will be a complete disregard the Labour Relations Act which states that collective agreements signed at the level of the chamber are binding to all parties to the agreement. The NEC meeting - meant to set the tone for the year - also reflected on the 2012 matric results which it welcomed with caution. It was critical of the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga's self congratulatory attitude on the results. "We firmly believe that whilst there has been an overall improvement largely due to the educators who put in hard work despite their unfavorable conditions of service, we should however not be blind to the severe challenges that face the system.

"The minister's attitude will in no way assist us to move forward and address the challenges in the sector. What we need is bold and decisive leadership that will be accountable to the country. For far too long, all the ills and contradictions in the system have been blamed on the educator without a thorough interrogation of the role that all those bureaucrats from the national to district offices play," the NEC resolved.

The NEC also called on the minister to take decisive and stern action against senior staffers who were doing the education, as well as the country, a major de-service.

The Presidential Task Team on the "Limpopo text book saga" made clear recommendations on the person of the director general. However, we are yet to see the minister act on the report. In our view, the continued occupation of the office by the incumbent Director General Bobby Soobrayan will do nothing but hamper much needed progress. We are calling upon the minister to provide some desperately needed leadership and not play skipper to a sinking ship.

She cannot continue to preside over a department that, among others, has the following prominent features:

An unacceptably high teacher/learner ratio mostly in quintile 1 & 2 schools whilst there are temporary teachers that are not being employed into substantive vacant posts;

The continued existence of mud schools or those that do not have libraries, laboratories and many other basic infrastructures;

The non-payment of the rural allowance to qualifying teachers;

The non filling of promotional posts at schools;

A department that is infested with corrupt officials at all levels.

The national executive committee also wants to dismiss, with the contempt it deserves, the suggestion that SADTU's action directed towards the department and its leadership is merely a matter of personality clashes between our general secretary and the director general. We are not shy to pronounce that ours was a collective decision taken in our last NEC meeting and our demands touch on the system in its entirety. Our interest is ultimately the quality public education that we expose the African working class child to, which is a direct consequence of conditions of service the teachers work under.

In this regard, the NEC further resolved to intensify its campaign to remove Soobrayan. SADTU in the provinces will embark on the second phase of the campaign to defend collective bargaining and promote peace in a department that is being de-generated by the incumbent DG. This will entail pickets in all provincial offices of the Department of Basic Education. The country can ill afford the disruption of education by one person who undermines collective bargaining processes and at worst, throws the Public Finance Management Act out of the window by abusing and misusing the Education Labour Relations Council funds.

The NEC also resolved that the administrator in Limpopo vacate his position with immediate effect and the provincial department of education put into good use the conditional grant for infrastructure. The NEC condemned minister Motshekga's new found zeal to pronounce policy that affects teachers in the media without having the decency to engage teachers their representatives first. She recently pronounced on a new method of registering teachers' attendance and absence at schools without explaining to the country that the registering of teachers' attendance is happening schools using manual methods.

We are yet to be told what the actual benefit of this suggested electronic register will be to the sector in a country where significant numbers of schools still lack basic requirements such as libraries and laboratories and glaringly lacks continuous teacher development, amongst others. In the face of such pressing needs, the minister wants to dedicate millions of tax payers' money towards policing the teachers. A relevant question to ask at this stage is, who will be at the receiving end of the monetary element from such fruitless expenditure? Not on our watch!!

We are hopeful that despite her lack luster performance thus far, the minister will provide some much needed concrete leadership and clarity starting with the department's upcoming budget vote which we will closely observe. The NEC further resolved to investigate the causes of the increasing number of students dropping out at the higher education institutions and the observed increase of bridging courses to help students to cope. This will help the union to suggest intervention strategies in preparing our learners in the General Education and Further Education and Training bands to succeed.

The NEC welcomed and commended the sterling work being done by the Curtis Nkondo Professional Development Institute on training teachers on assessment, school management and the support given to the Foundation Phase teachers in line with our goal to create a learning nation.

The NEC re-affirmed the union's commitment to the strategic tripartite alliance as a pivot of the national democratic revolution at this current juncture. We are calling upon all the workers to unite and defend the ANC against emerging political adventures such as the one that has been recently launched by one Mamphela Ramphela. Our views about this character are well known as she has since time immemorial gone out of her way to take an antagonistic posture towards a majority black government, a spectacular antithesis to her so called black consciousness movement credentials.

Whilst we respect every citizen's right to vote and be voted for, we however firmly believe that our political landscape does not in any way require any more choices for the electorate. The ANC has over the past 101years positioned itself as the only choice available for South Africans to advance the noble ideals as captured in the freedom charter.

We have a moral obligation as teachers to send a stern warning to fellow South Africans to be weary of this individual who has demonstrated nothing but failure in previous positions held at the University of Cape Town, the World Bank, Goldfields and yet suddenly want to emerge as the pariah of political righteousness.

We will play our part as SADTU and ensure that the federation COSATU is firm on its position and mobilizes the workers to work towards a decisive victory for the ANC in the general elections as the only realistic hope for our people. The NEC also noted with concern the recent spate of gender based violence, it is our view that such acts of inhumanity should have no space in our society and that we must all work towards rooting them out.

We will play our part in ensuring that the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign is intensified. We further call upon our teachers to do their revolutionary duty to teach our children and expose the lack of learning support materials in our schools. Teachers and principals should not fear anything in exposing the non-delivery of resources in our schools. No amount of intimidation and threats can stop us from exposing practices that undermine our people.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

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