SADTU on the beginning of the 2016 School Year

13 January 2016


As schools open their doors to welcome hundreds and thousands of learners across the country to start the 2016 academic year, the South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU) re-commits itself to defend quality public education and close ranks against those who seek to destroy collective bargaining in education, a right that we fought for as workers.

We are looking forward to seeing all the thousands of learners who will begin their Grade 1 in 2016 en-route to their National Senior Certificate in 2026. We hope that a significant majority of these learners entering our system for the first time will not be part of our now familiar statistic that indicates that less than 50 % will make it to matric. In order to avert what is almost a certainty in our current system, especially with current leadership of the Department of Basic Education (DBE), education must indeed be treated as a societal matter with increased parental involvement among other interventions.

On quality public education

As we begin the year, we would like to commend the teachers and learners, more especially from township and rural areas for the in-creased number of learners who passed the National Senior Certificate and obtained bachelors passes.

Although the 2015 results showed a decline from previous years, the number of learners who passed and obtained bachelors from schools in Quintiles 1 to 3 increased. Praise goes more specifically to our members, as they are the ones who teach in township and rural areas with minimal resources to get by.

As the 2016 school year begins, we are aware of the fact that many provinces are going to have fewer numbers of teachers due to the 2016 post provisioning norms. This will have a negative effect on the quality of teaching as teachers will be subjected to overcrowded classrooms. We can no longer allow overcrowding to continue as a norm. Overcrowding is affecting the poor in the township and rural areas and is therefore a class issue.

We are therefore going to launch a vigorous campaign against these debilitating post provisioning norms in order to ensure that learners have enough teachers. The ANC Mangaung resolution on the review of the current model has been sidelined in favor of the DA-initiated policies by the DBE.

As effective teaching should start on the first day of school, members of the National Working Committee of SADTU will visit earmarked schools to ensure that all the systems are in place. We also urge our members to be ready and vigilant in ensuring that effective teaching takes place from the very first day of school.

However, we are aware that the teachers cannot do it alone. We therefore call upon the Department of Basic Education to provide quality development programmes for teachers and other education personnel; build the necessary capacities and provide adequate support at district and provincial levels;, provide curriculum support and managerial infrastructure to support schools, governing bodies, principals and educators; and to ensure the correct and timeous provision of the learning and teaching materials to schools and allocate correct funding to schools on time

We further call on the Department to deal with the morale of the teach-ers which is at an all-time low, caused by constant change of policy with no consultation, work overload, teaching multi graded classes which leads to serious stress related health challenges that adversely affect their performance while earning peanuts.

In defence of collective bargaining in education

As we were about to end the year 2015, we sensed a distinct threat that our hard-earned gains as organised labour, are facing the threat of being reversed. The threat was articulated by the Volmink report on the selling of teaching posts which the Union has read and will respond to in due course. We are highlighting this because South Africa is a democratic country that respects international laws and human rights. Core rights such as freedom of association, right to collective bargaining, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour, the abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in employment cannot be tempered with by the employer.

As we navigate 2016 we will be vigilant and ensure that our gains are not reversed because we engaged in these struggles so that ultimately, this country receives quality public education for all.

2016 should be the year in which the Presidential Remuneration Re-view Commission set by the President in 2013 to investigate the pay and working conditions of public servants, provide us with tangible work on improving the conditions of work and salaries of teachers as promised by the President.