11 May 2009
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) congratulates the newly appointed ministers and deputies, and in particular welcomes the appointment of Comrade Angie Motshekga a former member of SADTU - for Basic Education, and Comrade Blade Nzimande for Higher Education and Training.
Splitting the education portfolio makes good sense. The former department was just too big one department accounting for 40% of all public service employees. The separate ministries will allow for greater focus on the very real challenges faced in both sectors.
The challenges faced by comrade Blade are immense:
In Higher Education: lack of access for the poor and working class, entrenched privilege and racism, and the slow pace of transformation of governance to develop truly South African curricula which respect indigenous knowledge and cultures;
For those outside of Higher Education, there are some 3 million unemployed in the age group 18 to 24. Offering hope and training opportunities to these youngsters is a priority. This means mobilizing the resources of the SETAs and addressing the chaos in the FET (Further Education and Training) sector.
In Basic Education, the challenges facing Comrade Angie are similarly daunting. Above all else we have to raise the quality of learning and teaching in the classroom. To this end we would like to highlight the following:
The need to put resources and training into ECD (Early Childhood Development) to ensure that all our children receive a good grounding, especially in literacy and numeracy.
The need to develop a national strategy and plan for teacher training, development and support remains critical. We take the view that well-motivated, well-trained teachers are key to improving the quality of education.
As SADTU we pledge to continue to work with the Department of Education in the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign, in which all stakeholders identify their roles and responsibilities and commit to carry these out. As teachers we have said that we must be on time, on task, well-prepared and behave professionally at all times.
There is also outstanding business between the teacher unions and the Department which needs to be finalized as soon as possible:
Negotiations over OSD (Occupation Specific Dispensation) have dragged on, effectively undermining the spirit of the Polokwane resolution..
There is also growing unease in SADTU at proposals to change funding norms to the advantage of the private sector and to entrench divisions within the public sector.
In addressing these and other challenges, open democratic and meaningful consultative processes are crucial. SADTU will continue to reject any unilateral "declaration of policy" which affects our members.
We take heart from the Presidents inauguration speech: its inclusive approach, the deep analysis of the challenges and priorities we face, and the call to all citizens to put their shoulders to the wheel of change and service delivery. In this spirit, SADTU commits to working with the new education ministers to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and to develop an education system which truly meets the economic and social needs of all our people.
Issued by: SADTU Secretariat
Thobile Ntola, President 079 491 3258
Mugwena Maluleke, Deputy General Secretary 082 783 2968
Jon Lewis, Media Officer 082 567 5628