SADTU message on World Teachers` Day

4 October 2016

Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status.

The South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU) joins millions of teachers globally in celebrating World Teachers` Day - 5 October under the theme: `Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status`.

World Teachers` Day celebrates the teaching profession and honours teachers for the role they play in education and society. SADTU salutes all teachers and particularly our members for their dedication, hard work and passion as they continue to teach sometimes under trying circumstances.

This year`s theme `Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status` could not have come at a better time. Teaching is the mother of all professions and yet it is not getting the appreciation it deserves. This is backed by research from teacher global union Education International (EI) and other studies that show a decline in teacher status and conditions over the last few years. The researches attribute this to among others; poor working conditions, unsafe and unhealthy working environments, infringement on academic freedom and inadequate training and teacher development to meet the needs of the 21st century, sub-standard teacher preparation programmes and poor salaries. SADTU fully agrees
with some of the findings of this research

We note the conditions our members work under teaching overcrowded classrooms due to the Post Provisioning Norms. They teach in unsafe environments and are vulnerable to criminal attacks, drugs, gangsters and dangerous weapons in schools.

We agree their salaries are less than those of professionals with comparable qualifications in other sectors causing many to leave the profession for greener pastures. The dignity of teachers as parents is affected as they cannot afford to provide basics to their children such as education and shelter.

Their academic freedom is slowly being eroded as they are made to administer countless tests giving them little time to teach. In the end they are blamed and labelled for the low scores learners obtain and worse, they receive little professional development in order to meet with the changes. These tests force teachers to turn children into uncritical robots. These tests are killing the creativity and independence of both our children and teachers and are intellectually abusive.

As we celebrate this day, we also note the increasing number of incidents of teachers who are having sexual relations with the learners. Such conduct tarnishes the image of the profession. Those who behave in this manner do not deserve to be called teachers and should be dealt with harshly. The few teachers who continue to take advantage of the economic status of the working class devalue and de-professionalize the profession.

We call upon the Government and communities to ensure that teachers are valued, honoured and respected by providing them with decent working conditions, safe working environments, quality training and development programmes and improve their salaries so that they will continue to be valued and their status improved.

We wish to thank all teachers for educating the nation. The South African Democratic Teachers union is proud of you.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat