The cheap propaganda being spread by some opposition parties in an attempt to win the hearts and minds of voting South Africans, that the country has not experienced any positive change in the 20 years of democracy is a lie and   should be treated with contempt.

Change is everywhere in South Africa – socially, politically and economically.

As a teacher union, SADTU would like to commend the ANC-led government for transforming the lives of South Africans more especially in education.

Education – a tool for uniting people, was used as a dividing tool by apartheid government. The country had 14 different departments of education divided by race and ethnicity.

From the 14 different departments, we now have only two – the Department of Basic Education and the Department for Higher Education and Training that are divided by their focus areas.

This ANC-led government improved spending on the working class black child from skewed funding of R10 on a white child to R1 for a black child before 1994.

The government extended access to education to an extent that we now have more than 500 000 learners who write matric whereas we had only 1200 blacks in matric in 1976 nationally.

More children are at school than ever before in the history of this country due to the efforts made by an ANC-led government that opened the doors of learning for all and in particular, the disadvantaged working class child by introducing no-fee paying schools, school nutrition programmes and scholar transport. The ANC-led government realised the importance of government in changing the lives of people and worked towards education for all.

The government made education one of its priorities and has it the highest allocation in the national budget.

The achievements gained, have been secured in an environment created by an ANC-led government.
Other barriers that caused learners not to access schooling like poverty, unemployment and long distances to schools are mitigated by this ANC-led government through the provision of school feeding schemes, scholar transport and no-fee schools.

Thanks to government programmes that promote access to education such as no-fee schools, school nutrition programmes and scholar transport.

As we celebrate so many years of our existence, we pay tribute to the ANC, together with teacher unions from Africa, Europe, Canada, United States of America and Australia who ensured that teachers in South Africa came together to form SADTU. Before 1990 teachers in South Africa were divided across racial, ethnic, geographical and religious lines. They fell under 14 different education departments that were divided according to race and ethnicity.

The ANC in its vision for the future of South Africa as well as the vision of teachers all over the world, realized that the country would not be free if educators were not united. In the 80’s many meetings were held in the continent trying to bring together divided teacher unions and associations to be one.

We pay tribute to the late world statesman, former ANC President and the first President of South Africa under the new democracy Tata Nelson Mandela for advocating for a united, non-racial body for teachers.
Although not all joined as some pulled away in the last minutes, the launch of SADTU went ahead  at Shareworld, Johannesburg on 6 and 7 October 1990.

Mandela – the keynote speaker,  said the launch was a beacon of hope for South Africans.

"Hope that we are putting an end to Bantu education, hope that the aspirations of teachers shall now be represented by a single resonant voice, hope that we are laying a firm basis for a single democratic education system.

As you are well aware, education in our country has been used as a tool against the people Black and White. Apartheid education – in fact all 14 departments - have been used to divide our people, whereas education may be used as a vehicle for uniting people,” Mandela  said.

We wanted to open the doors of learning for all. Twenty four years later, SADTU has walked the journey sometimes using tactics which were not acceptable to all but we have managed to break down some of the barriers.

The achievements gained, have been secured in an environment created by an ANC-led government; a government that opened the doors for learning for all and in particular, the disadvantage working class child.