SADTU in Limpopo Welcomes the beginning of the 2013 Academic Year

22 January 2013

Schools effectively re-opened on the 09 January 2013 and as a common practice, SADTU visited several schools as part of its back-to-school campaign. It was encouraging to observe that many learners of school going-age reported on the first day of school. We still call on the few remaining parents, guardians and community members to ensure that all school going-age learners are registered with their immediate schools.

SADTU takes the opportunity to congratulate all stakeholders - in particular teachers and learners - for the improved matric results for the year 2012. It is our conviction that the Province would have performed better and achieved 70% target had it not been the unnecessary challenges experienced as a result of poor education management especially the over-exaggerated textbook saga, provision of norms and standard monies to schools and poor management of learner scholar transport. We hope valuable lessons were learnt out of all these challenges and the department would not repeat similar mistakes.

Whilst the improvement of matric results is noted, the pattern of better performing schools indicate that well resourced and better managed schools perform better. The first Top Four schools are urban, properly resourced and former Model C schools or owned by the churches. This pattern confirms the call of the Union to improve infrastructure (school buildings and sanitation facilities) in rural schools and to improve training of school management especially in rural schools. SADTU has for the past three years, observed the dilapidating school infrastructure in the Province. We would urge the state to intervene as a matter of urgency. We call for Norms and standard monies to be deposited to schools urgently to enable them to effect the necessary repairs and provide additional resources that would assist to improve results.

The Union abhors the attitude of the intervention team (Administrator) to cut-costs including the core-business of the department such as enrichment classes or school performance interventions all in the name of saving costs. We want to reiterate our philosophy that says education priorities cannot be reduced to market determination or rules of demand and supply if ever we believe that education is a pre-requisite for any development of the country. We view the attitude of the Administrator and the Intervention program as inefficient and one that runs shot of our expected service delivery norm.

Schools are financially bleeding as a result of staggered deposits of norms and standard and the 25% robbed from schools in the 2012 provision through a mafia-style approach. Limpopo is a rural Province that is extremely under-resourced and the current norm per learner of ± R330 excluding LTSM compared to Gauteng Province of ± R990 per learner including LTSM, creates a serious disadvantage to the children of the province.

The Union has resolved to campaign, together with other progressive structures including COSATU and NASGB for the increase of the norm to no less than ± R550 per learner for the next financial year. We therefore call on the state and MEC of education to ensure that the matter is favourably addressed in their budget allocations lest they be made aware that the people of Limpopo would not allow second-class arrangements especially for their children who are the future of the Province and the country.

The textbook saga that put Limpopo Province on the spotlight last year was the result of corrupt intentions from the Director General to shift the procurement and distribution of textbooks from the Province to the Department of Basic Education in order to access the tender to his own beneficiaries. The continual failure to distribute books to schools in the Province is squarely his responsibility and general indecisiveness to resolve educational problems and his casual way of furthering problems for payment of markers simply convinces the Union that the Minister should ensure the Director General be relieved of his duties as he is incapable of administering and managing the department.

We would like to warn the Limpopo Department of Education on it gradually developing tendency of not consulting stakeholders on matters of mutual interest. The department recently terminated the payment of rural allowance to educators with effect from January 2013 without consultation with stakeholders. SADTU warned the department from beginning that the introduction of this allowance was not sustainable and was discriminatory. Limpopo is a rural Province and therefore all the educators in the province deserve to be incentivised. Qualification requirements into the allowance were never adhered by the department hence many qualifying schools were excluded. They terminated the allowance whilst the matter was still an agenda item in the bargaining council provincially and nationally. The Union has demanded that the department should withdraw the termination and consult stakeholders first about their intentions on the allowance and failure to do so, is a recipe for conflicts.

In conclusion, the Union appreciate continual commitment of teachers towards the culture of effective teaching and learning even against provocations that could undermine stability in the department due to the failure of other stakeholders to be committed to the culture of QLTC (Quality learning and teaching campaign).

ISSUED BY: SADTU Limpopo Provincial Secretariat