Declaration of the National General Council of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)

25 - 27 October 2013, Premier Hotel, Kempton Park, Gauteng Province

The SADTU National General Council (NGC), which brings together the National, Provincial and Regional leadership of the Union, representing over 256,000 educators and education workers, met to review the programmes of the Union from the 2012 National General Council and to plan the road ahead fully aware of the magnitude of the challenges confronting our education system in particular and education workers in general.

The National General Council, convened under the National Congress mandating Theme: “Organise and Empower Education Workers to Deliver Free Quality Public Education and Build Socialism”. It met during challenging times in our struggle and noted the shifting tasks confronting the National Democratic Revolution and that the working class was called upon to drive the country’s vision to build a better life for all.

The NGC deliberated on pertinent issues ranging from the political chemistry, socio-economic, international and organisational.

The National General Council further extensively deliberated on all the matters affecting teachers, learners, education personnel and the country at large, assessed the impact of the work-to-rule campaign in the defence of collective bargaining, which is the essence of our existence. The NGC further took time to reflect on the escalating violence against our teachers and the teaching community in general.

The NGC’s focus was on the evaluation of the curriculum transformation and the progress made in relation to Millennium Development Goals.

The NGC further audited the progress made in relation to our 2030 vision.

We further deliberated on the state of the federation and re-affirmed our unqualified support and commitment to the unity, cohesion and authority of the federation’s constitution.

The NGC further looked into the threats or challenges facing the trade union movement in general, that being conservative trade unionism, the emerging workerist tendencies, business in trade unions, tribalism and vigilantism; and the phenomenon of misplaced radicalism which confuses marxism with anarchy.

Confronted with these challenges, the NGC declares as follows:

In relation to creating a learning nation

The NGC resolved as follows:

On the message to the 2013 Grade 12 Class

  • We thank all the teachers for the commitment they have shown for the entire twelve years, preparing these learners for this important moment. We call on society and in particular the parents to support these learners during this time. Let us afford them enough time and space to prepare for these examinations.

  • We further urge the learners to focus on their preparations and avoid unnecessary destructions.

  • We call on all our members to expose any action that might cast any doubt on the credibility of the examinations.

On the Annual National Assessment

  • Having noted that ANA was introduced as a systemic evaluation to conduct a diagnostic test in Literacy and Numeracy.

The NGC declared as follows:

  • That ANA should remain a systemic evaluation with clear time frames that would allow for prompt feedback to be given to schools before the results are publicized followed by meaningful intervention programmes.

  • That ANA should be reviewed as an annual assessment as of 2014, and be substituted by a 3 year cycle of assessment.

  • In the review process we take a look at all the existing assessment tools with a view of establishing synergy amongst all of them.

On violence against teachers that

  • Violence against teachers be put to an end without any delay

  • A national registry that can be used to track these incidents and be created under the auspices of ELRC

  • A dedicated research be conducted taking into sociological issues, demographics of the school, the type of the administration at all levels, parental involvement and the neighbourhood within which the school is located

  • Every role player take a stand and make a pledge to stop violence against teachers

  • Parents should also take responsibility for the discipline of their children

  • Education department respond to any case reported within the shortest period available

  • Department of education provide psychological service to all schools

  • The harshest sentence should be meted against any person who attacks teachers and all other education workers at schools.

  • DBE review the suspension clauses in the National Education Policy Act, SASA and regulations in order to make them efficient whilst the case is being dealt with

  • The union hold seminars with learners, parents, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the injustice

  • Violence against teachers is put to an end without any delay and that this must be done by employment of security personnel in schools, and ensuring that there are periodical searches conducted at random at school level by law enforcement agencies.

  • Hands-off our teachers!!!!

On Higher Education

  • SADTU commission a research on the Millennium Development Goals particularly the ones that have not been achieved and find out the lessons that can be drawn from them

  • The Union organise forums/workshops at which leading researchers on transformation and diversity present findings on the sector

  • The Union facilitate discussion groups that build coalitions of students, academic staff around the question of transformation

  • SADTU be involved in the battle of ideas and knowledge generation through research

  • SADTU as a beacon of hope for many South Africans should start organising in the higher education sector to influence the policy direction of the sector and make it sympathetic to the working class

  • Re-affirm the union’s position on demanding that higher education as a public good be free

With regard to the Competency Tests

  • We reject competency testing for selection of markers and that the DBE must tie professional development to content gap with the intention of improving marking.

On the Quality Management System (QMS)

  • That the current document on QMS should strengthened and any element of subjectivity be removed so that the instrument can be more acceptable and credible.

  • That the learner performance/attainment should not be linked to the Teacher appraisal process due to varying contextual factors that are affecting learning and teaching.

On bullying in the Institutions of Learning

  • That the Union convenes Provincial Principals` (members of SADTU) Conferences or seminars to seriously discuss and develop strategies to stop this scourge;

  • That the Union cause the DBE to develop a comprehensive plan to combat bullying;

  • That the Union encourage Teachers, Students/learners, parents and support staff to take a pledge to stop bullying in all our institutions of learning;

  • That the Union create within the existing website a blog for members to report bullying;

  • That the ELRC conduct targeted research on the support the teachers require to be able to teach learners that display this behaviour;

  • That the DBE takes full responsibility in creating a formidable register to track down the incidents and the resolution thereof;

  • To cause every institution of learning to declare the institutions a bully free zones;

  • That the DBE provide well qualified teachers in the teaching of learners with this behaviour with the intention of assisting the affected learners to benefit from the learning process;

  • That the DBE cause every affected parent to take personal responsibility to stop bullying;

  • That the learner who commits continuous acts of bullying must receive the harshest sanction because the behaviour of this learner disrupts the rights of other learners to education.

  • Further consider calling for an amendment to South African Schools’ Act provisions on the suspension of learners to address the above.

On ECD and Grade R practitioners

  • ECD and Grade R Practitioners must be included in the mainstream as from 2015 and should receive benefits enjoyed by all employees in the public service.

In relation to building the delivery based organisational capacity

The NGC resolved

NGC resolved as follows on socio-economic and labour issues:

On the new leave forms

  • Proper consultations should be done through bargaining councils and the department must be caused to place a moratorium on the usage of the new leave form in favour of the old form pending consultation processes.

On corporate social responsibility

  • All Companies including the mines be caused to provide enough infrastructure to the communities where they’re located and SADTU through COSATU should mobilise and educate communities about policies which are in their favour.

In relation to the promotion of development orientated nation state

The NGC resolved

On the unity of the Alliance, unity of the federation, and the role of Educators and Education workers in the liberation struggle

  • To reaffirm all previous Alliance resolutions in building the unity and cohesion of the Alliance.

  • To reaffirm all resolutions on the capacity building of all leaders and members of the organisations in the Alliance.

  • To continue the implementation of political school programme at all levels of the Alliance with special focus on newly elected and recruited members.

  • To encourage all the affiliates to allow the current political intervention by both the ANC task team, SACP and the former leaders as part of the efforts to resolve the current impasse in the Federation.

  • As disciplined members of SADTU we should support the current internal processes of COSATU that seeks to unite the organization. To that end, leaders and members of SADTU should refrain from making unmandated pronouncements in the media that may undermine the internal processes of SADTU, COSATU and Alliance.

On the suspension of SADTU President

  • All SADTU members and leaders should respect the current internal processes to unfold until they reach their logical conclusion.

  • That leaders and members alike should refrain from airing publicly any views that are likely to bring SADTU into disrepute.

  • Free, fair and transparent processes must be implemented expeditiously.

  • Stipulations of the Constitution must be followed to the letter.

On the suspension of the COSATU General Secretary

  • SADTU should support the decision of CEC in suspending both the General Secretary and the staff member of COSATU

  • All union leaders and members must respect and adhere to the current decision of SADTU NEC and to allow the law of natural justice to prevail.

  • SADTU denounces the action by some COSATU affiliated unions to take COSATU to court and SADTU should further vow to stand firmly in defence of COSATU under current leadership.

  • SADTU must condemn all signs of tribalism that seems to accompany those in COSATU who have employed magnanimous enthusiasm to protect the General Secretary of COSATU?

  • SADTU denounces any call for a Special COSATU Congress.

On Unity and Cohesion of the Union

  • SADTU as a matter of urgency condemns all signs of tribalism that undermine unity and leaders in the organisation.

  • SADTU condemns in the strongest possible term the reported defiance of the union decision and reported unbecoming and ostensibly divisive behaviour demonstrated towards the national treasurer in the Eastern Cape.

  • Call for NEC to develop an approach to address the situation of the Eastern Cape

On Counter-revolutionary formations

  • That all members of SADTU who are also cadres of the ANC must dissociate themselves from identified groupings that thrive on divisions and anarchy.

  • That the formation of AMCU in mining and SAPSU in education by renegades characterised by vigilantism which thrives on lies, propaganda, attacks, character assassination and smear campaign. This is phenomenon is further elevated and supported by negative media reporting.

  • That SADTU members should encourage learners and the youth to actively participate in the activities of progressive youth formations namely, COSAS, SASCO, YCLSA and ANCYL.

On the emergence of new Trade Unions

  • To ensure that the federation as whole remains united behind a programme whose primary focus will be to give excellent service to workers and to defend the revolution against enemy propaganda, whatever form it takes

On Marikana and Support and Solidarity with NUM

  • That we pledge our solidarity with the NUM and condemn the continuing killing of members and leaders of NUM. We also call on the law enforcement agencies to apprehend those involved in these barbaric actions.

On mobilising for Elections 2014

  • All SADTU members should take part in the alliance campaigns canvassing for the decisive two third majority victory for ANC.

  • That all structures of SADTU engage in educating learners about the history of our country as part of the preparations for the 2014 elections

  • The Campaigns Committee be charged with a responsibility to develop a clear political elections programme.