SADTU end of the year statement

23 December 2016

SADTU wants 2017 to be declared the year for quality public education.

2016 marked 60 years of the adoption of the Freedom Charter. It also marked 22 years of the dawn of democracy and 20 years of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. It further marked 50 years of the adoption of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendations concerning the Status of Teachers. When SADTU was formed 26 years ago she had, as one of the primary objectives the elimination of all forms of discrimination in education and started the journey of striving towards a free and democratic education in South Africa.

The Freedom Charter proclaimed that education shall be free and compulsory. Sec-tion 29 of the Constitution of the Republic enshrines the right to education. The Recommendations concerning the Status of Teachers asserts that Education from the earliest school years should be directed to the all-round development of the human personality and to the spiritual, moral, social, cultural and economic progress of the community, as well as to the inculcation of deep respect for human rights and fundamental freedom. Within the framework of these values, the utmost importance should be attached to the contribution to be made by education to peace and understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and among racial or religious groups.

The critical challenge remains the impact of poverty and inequality in education which continues to perpetuate discrimination in many forms.. Our struggle and the founding objective of SADTU remains as important as when the Freedom Charter was adopted, the UNESCORTED/ILO Recommendation was adopted, the constitu-tion of the Republic was passed and when SADTU was formed.

SADTU and her members remain resolute in their principal objective to realise a fully transformed quality public education system that will translate into an equal society. To this end SADTU reiterates her support for the recommendations contained in the chapter on education in the National Development Plan.

These recommendations are in line with the SADTU 2030 Vision. SADTU thus re-mains concerned that the implementation of these recommendations does not ap-pear to enjoy any measure of urgency as would have been expected for an apex priority. SADTU will in the New Year, based on the NDP and her Vision 2030 develop and present a detailed plan of the actions required to realise our noble vision of a quality public education system.

SADTU is concerned that certain basic issues remain a challenge in our education system. One such issue is the ongoing inability of certain education departments to manage their affairs properly resulting in great hardship and the gross violation of the rights of educators in particular. It is regrettable that SADTU had to resort to legal action in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo Provinces to force the departments to pay the salaries of educators. Some of these educators had been owed salaries up to a period of a year.

These are some of the issues that continue to distract the attention of educators from the core business of education and demoralize them further. We are however grateful to our members in particular that despite the pain and humiliation of not being paid their hard earned salaries, they have continued at our request to render a service to the nation as we fight for their salaries.

We remain concerned that our education outcomes continue to be below the desired levels especially in gateway subjects. One of the major issues we have been raising is the urgent need to improve on school infrastructure and the learning and teaching environment. We have also repeatedly called for a dedicated teacher development programme located within an integrated education development programme along the basis proposed in the National Development Plan.

We are still convinced that unless more effort and resources are made available and properly managed, efficient and effective administration of our education departments take root and the policy framework addresses the fundamentals of a developmental agenda, our ability to realise better education outcomes remain a distant dream.

We believe that we now need a new sense of urgency to holistically address the challenges facing our education system. We do not believe that the ongoing ad-hoc and knee-jerk reactions to identified problems will in any way assist. We thus call upon the education authorities and the government to declare 2017 as the year for public quality education by focussing human, financial and other resources to it.

We reiterate the absolute need to urgently address the challenges at Foundation Phase. We still have to resolve the issue of the conditions of service of Grade R practitioners. We still have to resolve the issue of mother-tongue instruction and in-frastructure needs for Early Childhood Development. We believe that unless a prop-er and solid foundation is laid, we will continue to battle with unpleasant education outcomes.

As we start the new year and are mindful of the continuous problems educators face in certain basic education departments, we call upon and remind our members and educators in general that we serve a nation and are the bedrock of its development. It is in this context that often we put the interests of our children first. We thus once more appeal to our members and educators to exercise restraint despite the many adverse material conditions we face. As per Pillar 1 of our Vision 2030 which calls on the Union to service members, the leadership of this giant union is leaving no stone unturned to address the issues affecting educators. We have already warned certain education departments and strongly advised them to address and process salary related and other matters relating to educators or face unprecedented legal action.

We wish all teachers and learners a peaceful and restful festive season and pros-perous new year.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157