The Annual National Assessment (ANA) adds no value to the South African learner

Joint Statement

21 September 2015

Organised labour in the Basic Education sector, strongly believes that the ANA in its current form, is not in the best interest of our learners or for the provision of quality education. It must be noted that no South African learner will be disadvantaged by not writing the ANA as it has never been used for promotional purposes.

Therefore, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), National Professional Teachers` Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), National Teachers` Union (NATU), Professional Educators Union (PEU) and the SA Onderwysunie (SAOU) received with shock and disappointment the announcement by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) that the Annual National Assessment for 2015 will take place from the 1st to the 4th of December 2015.

This announcement which we encountered for the first time in the media was made despite an earlier commitment by the DBE and the UNIONS that a task team consisting of all the unions and senior DBE officials would be established to develop a remodeled, systemic and diagnostic tool instead of the ANA in its current form. We thus find the decision of the DBE and Council of Education Ministers (CEM) regrettable and confrontational in nature as it discourages labour peace.

We further want to take this opportunity to reiterate our position as organised labour regarding a number of misrepresented facts on the ANA that were released in the DBE press statement on
11 &18th of September 2015 respectively.   

In the first instant, on the 11th of September 2015, the DBE released a statement post a joint press briefing with some of the Unions detailing the formation of the task team and the postponement of the ANA, in the statement released by the DBE, an indication was given that the ANA would be postponed until the first week of February 2016. We want to make it abundantly clear that as labour we are in support of the task team and will fully participate in its work to remodel the current ANA. We however want to distance ourselves from the earlier "February 2016" announcement by the DBE. At no stage did the parties agree to a set date for the administering of ANA and some of the unions immediately clarified their position publicly in this regard.

Secondly, on Friday last week, as indicated above, the DBE made an announcement post the CEM meeting that the ANA would be taking place from the 1st to the 4th of December 2015, it went further to suggest that this is a position that had been accepted by all the parties including labour. They further alluded that unions had all allegedly agreed to a 90 day postponement of the ANA in an earlier meeting of teacher unions and senior DBE officials.

We must indicate to the country that this is a gross misrepresentation of facts by the DBE. We, as Unions, view this as an attempt by the DBE to confuse our members and deliberately drive a wedge between the collective leadership of the various unions and their members

The understanding was that once the remodeling process was complete within the set time frame, the parties would then further engage on the timelines to launch a remodeled systemic and diagnostic tool. Under no circumstances would we have agreed to the roll out of the ANA in its current form even if it would have been at a later date as unilaterally decided by the DBE.

The announcement by the DBE is thus unfortunate and illogical to the extent that as it is practically impossible to have worked on a remodeled systemic and diagnostic tool and have all the systems ready for implementation by early December 2015. In our view, this is a subtle attempt by the DBE to relegate unions as key stakeholders and drive them into oblivion.

It is important to highlight the fact that as organised labour in the system we are not against assessments as a matter of principle. We want to insist, however, and reiterate our position that the ANA in its current form will not be beneficial to the system and will not contribute in any way to quality education.

As organised labour we will mobilise all our members and society at large against the ANA in its current form and its roll out on the 1- 4 of December 2015. It must be noted that the normal year-end examination will be conducted by all schools prior to this date and all teachers will be otherwise engaged.  

We therefore want to call on the Department of Basic Education to allow the necessary space for the established task team to do its work and enter into discussions with us in good faith. Any intimidation or threat of reprisal towards the teachers will be counter to the spirit of the established task team and joint collaboration

We are fully committed to the task team and believe that the outcomes of its work will be a truly systemic and diagnostic tool that will add value to the system and contribute towards the attainment of quality education for our children and improved teacher development.

As organized labour we reiterate our position that we will not be administering the ANA in 2015.