The State of the Department of Education for 2016 NSC Examinations

20 October 2016

The leadership of SADTU in the province has taken time to reflect critically on the capacity of the department of education to delivery on its mandate. There has been change of leadership in both the political and administrative front which birthed uncertainty within the department itself. It is our hope and observation that the department can once again be stable and focus to deliverables without irritations. We are now in the very last quarter of the year with few days left before NSC examinations for 2016 start. It remains an irrefutable yet disturbing trend and fact that the entire twelve year challenging school journey is narrowed to and evaluated on the outcomes of a single year NSC results.

We therefore convene this media briefing at a time when our teachers, learners and parents are holding their breath awaiting for the start of the 2016 end of the year examinations. On the side of teachers there is confidence that they have done all in their capacity to teach, conduct the required school based assessment and lastly revision of the work done. They have gone beyond the call of duty to reach learners over extra ordinary hours. Learners themselves have been subjected to long classes, weekend and holiday classes, all this is done as all in the department wanted to ensure that the province improves this year. Teachers whilst voluntarily out of their class consciousness were engaged in unpaid overtime and even ourselves as the Union we unconsciously exposed and subjected our members to high level of exploitation in the quest for better results.

At this critical time we are satisfied that a lot of work has been done but few issues that we raised in the beginning of the year remain relevant even now. We cautioned the department that in responding to the public pressure the department must never take decisions haphazardly. Firstly as SADTU we questioned and challenged the decision of forcing learners to take Mathematics claiming that KwaZulu Natal was being made a Maths province. The basis of our concern was that the province does not have enough qualified maths teachers, there are not enough subject advisers for maths and no tangible teacher development programme focusing on maths teaching. We are not convinced that building blocks have been created in the lower phases to support the learners when they get to Grade 12. When results are issued provinces get compared. KZN has a majority of learners in the country. Out of the 663 549 learners registered to write NSC examinations this year KwaZulu Natal accounts for a quarter with the 171074 registered learners. This simply means kwaZulu Natal accounts for 25.8 %. Out of the 171074 registered learners 110721 are pure Mathematics learners. This picture is a worrying one considering that the performance of the Province in June was 37%. Moving forward learners and parents must be allowed to have a final word in the choice of subjects. In 2017 learners in KZN department of education must issue a circular to this effect.

SADTU continues to have a problem with the progression policy of the department of education. Learners are "walked" to Grade 12 without them having displayed required competence in Grade 11. Having done that the department has not been able to come up with a dedicated programme to assist learners to cope with the demanding work of Grade 12. To make the situation worse the department has come with the concept of modularisation which in our view is the dumping of learners. Learners have never been informed in the beginning of the year that there will be this way of writing examinations. SADTU wants to caution the department and some schools that they must not be opportunistic in that they to force learners to modularise so as to better their results as modularising learners will not be counted when deciding on the overall performance of the departments and schools.

Coming to the writing of examinations SADTU calls on all the learners to remain cool, focused and commit to revision and study for each examination paper. Parents must give enough support to our learners at this critical time.

We wish to thank our teachers for the work they have done since the beginning of the year. With all the sweat and compromises they have done they must now focus on assisting learners with revision and dedicate their time to invigilation. SADTU wants to remind teachers that their dignity as teachers will also be assessed by the way they conduct themselves as they do invigilation. As a Union we call all our members to refuse and not be tempted to assist learners as they answer the questions.

Lastly the Union understands that the examinations are coming with opportunities to make extra cash especially during marking, we urge teachers that only the fit ones in terms of health must go to marking centres. This is raised because of the past experiences where some teachers would ask to be discharged in hospitals so that they can go to marking centres. Some of these teachers have died whilst marking.

ON ANA

SADTU has been on the streets conscientising the society about the dangers of having the annual assessments in the form of ANA. For records the Union`s concern has always been that ANA was not serving the purpose it was intended for.

SADTU supports the National Office in its statement issued yesterday welcoming the announcement by the department that ANA would be replaced by a systemic assessments which will be written every three years. It was our demand in 2014 that ANA should be reviewed as an annual assessment and be substituted by assessments on a three year cycle. Now the announcement by the DG is a big victory to SADTU and her members.

ON THE IRREGULAR EXPENDITURE AND FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

SADTU has been in the forefront of exposing and fighting corruption in the department of education in the province of KwaZulu Natal. This fight by the Union was started in 2008. In 2014 SADTU welcomed and celebrated the appointment of the Investigation Team to investigate how monies of the department were being used. It has always been our view that personnel is always under looked when it comes to spending. The department has been refusing to appoint and pay personnel as they have always said there is no adequate funding. What has been confusing was that the department would always be seen spending personnel funds on other programmes like buying cars towards the end of the financial year.

SADTU raised these matters with the department as well as 2016 Workers Parliament convened by the KZN Legislature in May. The recent findings by SCOPA are exactly what we have been advancing as SADTU. Critical posts and infrustruture provisioning remains unattended like in Uthungulu and Umkhanyakude where employees` appointments and payments remain a nightmare. In 2014 the department employed a temporary measure of attending to the challenges of these districts with the promise that the problem was being attended. It is 2016 now still workers have to drive from Umkuze and Empangeni to access files and start working of appointments and payments at Ulundi. Workers are exposed to long driving hours before they do their work. When they arrive at Ulundi they are frustrated by the shortage of tools of trade in the form of computers and others have to use their personal laptops which they do not have. In the process schools get frustrated as there is a delay in the processing of submissions made by schools.

We therefore demand the following:

  • That the department provides us with the progress report on the movement of HR and Finance functions to Uthungulu and Umkhanyakude.
  • That if the report is not convincing the department must be ready to meet SADTU on the streets of Ulundi where we will be engaging on an action to force the employer to prioritise these rural districts.
  • SADTU demands the release of the Investigation report.

The Union notes the suspension of the CFO and Chief Director. We call the department to speedily conduct the investigation so that the department is not left without a permanent person in these critical posts and the financial backbone of the department. SADTU supports any fight against corruption and fraud but strongly believe that processes must be free and fair and conducted speedily to ensure justice.

On bread and butter issues

SADTU has observed over a long period that the only available avenue and platform for education workers to raise their issues and grievances being the ELRC is gradually becoming dysfunctional notably as part of the broader onslaught to collective bargaining. The attitude of the employer in these chambers is no way different to agents provocateurs whose intention is to collapse anything designed to create labour peace. The capacity and commitment of the employer is highly questionable and there are no attempts convincing to remedy this situation. SADTU want to send a clear clarion call to the employer to protect the integrity and relevance of these chambers hence it remains the only hope for workers for which they are prepared to fight to the bitter end.

Non-payment of educators in the Province

SADTU discovered that the employer had, without proper consultation issued Circular No 22 of 2016 which dictated that for new appointments all qualifications of educators shall be verified with SAQA prior to capturing and payment of salaries. This has resulted in backlogs in payments of salaries of newly appointed educators considering that the SAQA needs information from universities which are currently in turmoil. Whereas we are concerned and completely against the use and submission of fraudulent qualifications by bogus educators, we hold a view that educators cannot go unpaid for so long a period of time going up to four months. More than 500 educators have been without salaries despite them rendering service to the employer. We have engaged the employer and we are pleased to report that work is now underway to capture appointments for salary payments in the near future.

Non-payment of rural incentives

The department is expected to incentivise educators who work in rural areas and in hard to teach schools across the province in terms of the policy of the Department of Basic Education. The payment of incentives to these deserving workers has been marred by inconsistencies and glaring ineffectiveness in the implementation. Despite attempts to give effect to this policy through Collective Agreement No 2 of 2014 which is primarily intended to facilitate payment of incentives in terms of the letter and spirit of the policy the department has disturbingly and repeatedly failed to pay incentives on time over years. Deserving educators, 6 046 of them, who were supposed to be paid from January 2016 have not been paid to date. There are still 1006 unpaid educators for 2015. There is manifestly no urgency on the side of the employer such that they are proposing making these payments in March 2017 once more exposing the fiscal to under expenditure should they fail to pay during the current financial year. Scores of relevantly qualified educators in rural areas migrate yearly to urban areas as there is no retention policy and rural incentives are intended to mitigate this unfortunate skills flight from the underdeveloped areas. We call on the department to purposefully evaluate the impact this has had on poor matric results in this areas that lose quality educators yearly as a result of poor management and implementation of this policy by the department. Annual report due to the Director-General on implementation has never been submitted to this office which is blatant dereliction of responsibilities.

On vacant funded posts

We welcome the advertisement of over 185 office based posts which are critical in the delivery of quality education. There are equally the two bulletins advertising a total of 2004school based promotion posts will enable schools to fill these critical posts of managers. We once again call on our School Governing Bodies to execute their responsibilities with caution and ensure that they uphold the integrity and oath of their office as governors. In the same vain we invite members of the community serviced by all our schools to allow these processes to go unhindered by community related pressures.Proper and timeous execution of processes by the department can easily allow the appointees to assume duties on the 1st of December. This will give schools opportunity to be joined by their new managers for 2017 planning purposes.

On the Post Provisioning Norms for 2017

The MEC of education has an obligation to consult with all stakeholders on creation of educator posts annually. This is an exercise that he procedurally must complete by end of September of each year. In 2016 this was delayed but we record that this remains a painful exercise that reflects perpetuated inequalities as it hits the most rural institutions that lose learners yearly.

It has been our position that the actual movement of educators should be conducted once every three years to moderate anguish educators are always exposed to through these movements yearly. The newly signed Collective Agreement No 4 of 2016 will enable us to finally implement a multi-term agreement with 2017 being the base year for retention of educators in schools. This exercise must neither carry a negative impact on advertised posts for the benefit of quality education nor lead to irregular termination of educators and to that end we shall resist any attempt to freeze any advertised posts and irregular terminations.

Issued by the Secretariat on behalf of the Provincial Executive committee

Nomarashiya Caluza Bheki Shandu
Provincial Secretary Deputy Provincial Secretary
082 611 7027 082 611 7028
nomarashiyacaluza@gmail.com bshandu1025@gmail.com