Statement of SADTU NEC following its meeting held in Durban

31 August 2015

The National Executive Committee of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) held a successful meeting from 26 to 27 August 2015 in the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal.  The meeting was the first after many crucial gatherings of the Tripartite Alliance namely the COSATU, SACP and the Alliance Special Congresses and the World Congress of Teacher Union Federations under Education International (EI) held in Ottawa, Canada.  

The NEC meeting deliberated on among others education, labour and socio economic matters and took crucial decisions. The NEC spent time on the role of education in addressing issues of skills in our country in order to respond to the ailing economy. The NEC noted with serious concerns the job losses in the domestic as well as global economy. It has further reflected on the signs of economic recession in South Africa and Brazil as members of BRICS and holds a view that quality teachers, quality tools and quality teaching and learning environment is what is required to drive a sustainable economic growth.

The NEC provided leadership on several pressing issues.

On the introduction of Mandarin in public schools

The NEC expressed its disappointment with the Department of Basic Education’s continued efforts to spin its way out of what is clearly an unpopular decision. It reiterated the Union’s stance that the introduction of Mandarin was the re-colonization of South Africa.

The NEC took a decision that the Union will engage on a programme to involve stakeholders in education including COSAS, COSATU affiliates and the society at large against the introduction of Mandarin and its prioritisation over our indigenous languages.

The Union will also discourage members from participating in the envisaged Mandarin training programme for teachers.

Further, the Union will convene a seminar that will include those from academia to fraternal organisations and create a platform which will see us engaging on how we can prioritise our own indigenous languages.
The language is the essence of who we are. Colonialism and apartheid have limited our people of their language which in turn has limited our view of the world. Colonialism and apartheid have denied our people their language and this has denied them of their rich  culture and heritage. A people without a language remains divided and impoverished. Poverty of indigenous language breeds violence and low self esteem.

Lack of quality mother teaching in our schools is drying our children access to quality education.

On job loses

The NEC noted the report of the special Central Executive Committee on the day of action in demand of decent work which will be held on the 7 October 2015. The NEC therefore resolved to embark on preparations that will see all our members joining the other workers in action in defense of jobs.

On COSAS and corporal punishment

The NEC condemned in the strongest terms, the provocative call by COSAS to the learners to physically assault teachers that carry out corporal punishment.  The call is irresponsible and morally bankrupt. The NEC said it could not remain silent when learners; “Whom we view as our children, denigrate to such a level.”

The call is cheap populism given that COSAS knows the procedures to follow in reporting teacher misconduct.

It was also an indication of the degenerating state of affairs within the COSAS leadership collective.
The NEC resolved that a bilateral be convened between the Union and the COSAS leadership and then at a later stage the Education Alliance.

The NEC reiterated the Union’s stance against corporal punishment.  SADTU condemns acts of corporal punishment in line with the Union’s code of conduct. No teacher should administer corporal punishment in our schools and called upon the parents to full responsibility of motivating their children to value education in support of the efforts of the teachers.

The NEC condemned the lack of professionalism from some few teachers who engage in sexual relations with learners. This act of misconduct must not be tolerated and must be rooted out of our education system once and for all.

Privatisation in and of Education

The NEC noted that there is a well-co-ordinated grouping of private companies that have identified education as the next “gold mine” to exploit and use our children as a commodity in South Africa and on a global scale.

The NEC therefore resolved that the Union should launch and intensify a campaign against the privatisation in and of our education. The Union will look at partnering with like-minded organisations and convene a seminar against this disturbing trend of privatization of education. Education is a public good; the Government should therefore focus on increasing its spending towards the achievement of quality public education and universal access.

The ongoing attack on collective bargaining and proper consultation by DBE

The NEC received reports on the ongoing attack on collective bargaining and consultation by the DBE over a period of Five years. The NEC conducted an analysis of collective agreements aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning and concluded that the DBE was involved in well orchestrated low intensity war against the unions. That it has failed to consult on matters of ANA which is supposed to diagnostic however it has been changed to a testing regime. There is no time for remedial action based on the diagnosis. The DBE has committed publicly to engage the Unions however this has not happened because in this low intensity war the DBE wants to render Unions irrelevant.

The DBE has failed to implement 0,5% parity despite having made commitments on numerous occasions. This is to destroy the morale of the teachers who are resigning in huge numbers as their profession is under attack from pre-ANA and ANA neoliberal ideology. The DBE committed publicly to consult with Unions on the principals regulations and this didn`t happen instead we have entered into a gazette-driven regime which is meant to sideline the Unions on issues affecting conditions of employment. The DBE has failed to publish the agreed upon Personnel Administrative Measures because this process was through collective bargaining and instead opted to gazette policies for public comments whilst there is a Council established to facilitate consultations in promoting labour peace.

The DBE has failed for more than Five years to review the Peter Morkel Model dealing with Post Provisioning Norms. This lack of commitment is destroying education because the DBE is prioritizing Mandarin over quality teaching and learning environment. The DBE has failed our social cohesion project by nit monitoring the incremental implementation of the teaching of African Languages including denying schools the necessary quality teachers because there is no plan to review the Post Provisioning Norms.

The NEC had no option but adopt a programme of action on all the issues affecting the conditions of employment including directing all members of SADTU not to administer ANA until such time that the DBE stops imposing policies that are not meant to improve the working relationship but creating an environment that will compromise education and labour peace. The NEC is calling upon all members of SADTU to defend education by not administering ANA.

The NEC is calling upon the DBE to come to the consultation table to deal with education matters in a responsible manner and not the antagonist approach they have adopted including telling Unions to go and fly a kite. Such an approach is destroying the culture of teaching and learning because teachers are tired of being undermined and are going to defend themselves with everything they have in defense of education.

Curriculum Development

The NEC noted that the current school curriculum was not entirely progressive and would not equip learners to be conscious South Africans who would aspire to a socialist future. It was also not consistent with the call for people’s education for people’s power.

The NEC resolved that the Union should come up with a strategy and implementation plan on how to positively influence the development of the curriculum. A seminar to focus on how the Union can pay an active role in curriculum development will be convened.

Human Rights Watch report on inclusive education

The NEC welcomed the report of the Human Rights Watch on the country’s failure to guarantee inclusive education for children with disabilities.

The Report  has shown that although South Africa was one of the first countries to endorse the UN Disability Rights Treaty in 1997, close to half a million children with disabilities are still excluded from schools.

The NEC supported the Human Rights Watch recommendation that Government makes into law the Education White Paper 6 – the Government’s inclusive education policy which calls for among others, the development of an adequately resourced implementation plan to ensure all public ordinary schools accommodate disabled children.

The NEC further called on government to provide proper training of teachers about inclusive education methodologies, practical training about children’s needs according to their disabilities and to provide incentives for teachers to teach children with disabilities.

The NEC further calls upon the DBE to engage Unions in reviewing the post provisioning norms in order to adopt a weighting system that will guarantee learners quality education.

The NEC further expressed its condolences to the families of learners who died when their school was gutted by fire in a school for the deaf in the North West in the early hours of Monday.

The incident was not the first in a school for learners with disabilities in the province. The NEC then urged government to step up its efforts towards ensuring the safety of disabled learners.

Destroying SADTU from within by ill disciplined leaders

The NEC has exposed the strategy of destroying SADTU from within by leaders who contest positions within the branches and regions of our Union with the aim of using such positions and the Union resources to organize for the non-registered pseudo-union SAPSU. The NEC resolved to take decisive action on Union members whose names appear on the website of the so called SAPSU as organisers. These members will be subjected to internal disciplinary processes so that the Union can focus on servicing members rather than allowing these ill disciplined members to use Union structures to recruit members for another pseudo-union.

The NEC is calling upon all the members in all the provinces to expose these leaders and stop them from being nominated as leaders since they have identified themselves as enemies of the Union and its members.  The Union cannot allow people to work within the union to collapse SADTU.