Statement on the appointment of the new MEC for Education in KZN

7 June 2016

The South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU) in KwaZulu-Natal welcomes the appointment of the new MECs in KZN and in particular welcomes the MEC for education, Mr. Mthandeni Dlungwane. He is inheriting an entity with no Head in place after the expiry of the contract of Dr Nkosinathi Sishi and this should give him an opportunity to apply his mind intelligently when planning for the future of the department.

We believe that the MEC of education has been tasked with a mammoth responsibility to give hope not only to the learners of the province but further to the populace of the province and the country considering that this department is the biggest in the country. Education being a societal matter entails direct involvement of all stakeholders whose energies need to be galvanized and directed towards achievement of common objectives and a shared vision.

The department is currently struggling to find its true self from the disappointing matric results that notoriously undermined commitment of all stakeholders in the last two years with a drop of over 17%. We hope his leadership and organizing abilities will be readily put into good use through implementation of programmes designed to create conducive learning environment.

Open and democratic consultative processes which have in the past strengthened working relationship between labour and the department shall continue to define successes and progressive engagements within this critical sector.

SADTU holds a view that the results of the assessment and evaluation of the department`s performance as conducted by the ruling party shall help him to enrich current programmes developed with the learner, educator and the community in mind. The myriad challenges that militate against all our collective endeavours to improve results are perhaps within our reach to overcome and include though not limited to:

POST PROVISIONING NORMS

Notwithstanding concomitant powers between the National and Provincial departments the challenges brought about by the current Post Provisioning Norms remains an obstacle to provision of quality public education. Educators particularly in rural and township schools are confronted with problems of teaching overcrowded classrooms to the detriment of the learners. This is linked to annual distribution of educators which causes undue stress to educators and instability in our institutions thereby impacting negatively on learner performance. One of our key assessments for a capable MEC is their capacity to create posts for new teachers in the organogram. The two MEC who came before him have failed in this front. We believe this energetic leader who has just been sworn in will be able to advance and create posts for a number of schools and ensure that the teacher to pupil ration is further reduced. This will lead to many of our classes having less learners facing a teacher and such will lead to quality education. We no longer need classes where one teacher faces 50 to 90 learners in one classroom. This is a hazard to our education and it cannot continue unchallenged.

PAYMENT OF RURAL ALLOWANCE AND VIOLENCE IN SCHOOLS

Inappropriate payment of rural incentives robs learners` quality educators who would otherwise be retained in struggling schools in our rural and hard to teach at schools. Scores of well qualified professional educators migrate to urban areas in droves as this only available retention strategy is not implemented to the letter and spirit of the policy. Our schools are besieged with violent protests and sometimes community infightings that spill into the sacrosanct environments of teaching and learning causing undue instabilities that even undermine the right of our learners to access quality education. This is but a critical area which our new MEC will have to find solutions to indeed working with all stakeholders of which SADTU is major.

THE WORKSFORCE

We shall call on our MEC to pay particular attention to teacher development and upskilling of educators given the dynamic changes in education coupled with technological advancement warranting a "new educator" all the time. The MEC will have to develop strategies to deal with the aging workforce and massive resignations of education workers while resourcing of schools particularly in rural areas remains a surmountable to challenge in our view.

We also take this opportunity to thank the former MEC, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni, for the sterling work particular in overseeing development of a strategy to reposition the department through the "Bounce Back Strategy" for attainment of desired results. Furthermore the convening of the Education Summit which dissected the problems and broadly captured possible solutions through resolutions adopted, strengthened by the Education Indaba of the office of the Premier should provide the new MEC with an enviable opportunity to hit the ground with ease.

SADTU KZN commits to working with the new MEC to improve teaching and learning in the classroom for the benefit of the learners, educators, the communities and the nation. We will seek audience with the new MEC in order to ventilate some of our frustrations as workers which in our view inhibit efficiency particularly at administration level leading to avoidable disruptions in the system like observable failure to fill in the vacancies in the department.

The most critical challenge is to continuously ensure that the doors of learning and teaching remain open for all.

Issued by the Secretariat