30 November 2012

On behalf of SADTU members in the Western Cape, we take umbrage at the child-like antics of Dr Mamphela when she called SADTU teachers alcoholics, drug addicts and indebted to no end. This is the most ludicrous utterance made by an adult who is supposed to head an NGO dealing with education. We find this insulting and unfounded generalisation to be juvenile for a person who has a PHD and is a former Vice Chancellor of a University in our province.

How are the millions of learners in the country supposed to respect their educators after they have been labelled by this “respected elder” in the worst derogatory terms imaginable? SADTU members are outraged. We have been inundated by messages from members. Please read one: Lyrice writes:

Mamphela Ramphele, for the record, I am and always been a proud SADTU teacher. I taught in poor,public schools for 24 years and am humbled by the richness that the experience has added to my life. For the last 12 years, I was involved in teacher professional development in township schools, independent schools and ex-model C schools. The growth and development of teachers have always been my passion. For the last 18 months I’ve been doing teacher professional development work in rural and farm schools. I travel on farm roads and visit schools which you may not even think exist. I engage with teachers who work under the most horrendous circumstances, yet they do well and they come to school with a smile on their faces every day.

I come from a family with a rich tradition of teachers. My grandmother was a music teacher. I have uncles and aunts who were some of the best teachers. My sister is a deputy principal at a school (1000 plus learners) and she drives the school’s Literacy and Numeracy strategy. In fact, her school has been consistently doing well in LITNUM and it is celebrated as one of the top performers in the district she works in. Oh, before I forget, she’s a SADTU teacher!

Another sister is a Principal at a school of 1400 learners in Mossel Bay. Many schools are taking a leaf out of her and the staff’s book when it comes to her endeavors on continued parental involvement and parent support . Those of us in education would know what a luxury it is to have parents involved in school life. She works with hardworking teachers who give of their best to their charges. Just a reminder, she’s also a SADTU teacher!!

My brother is a principal of a school in George with a very peculiar history. The school is situated in an industrial area in George. The school has withstood the group areas and forced removal era. As a result, the learners are bussed in from the surrounding farms. The space is not enough to share with you the magic that my brother and the staff create for those kids. They make the school a fun place to be for the poor farm kids. Oh, he is a SADTU teacher!!

What right do you have to call SADTU teachers “alcoholics and drug addicts”? What makes you believe that SADTU teachers are people who “can’t even look after themselves”? How dare you call SADTU teachers an “apology that is called a teacher”? Have you spent a single day in a poor public school in South Africa? Do you even know what it’s like to be a teacher in current day South Africa?

I regard your utterances with the resentment it deserves! You and your drivel about teachers is one of the reasons why we bleed the best teachers!

There are many other SADTU members we could quote. I am sure your damaging assertions to SADTU are making your family cringle with disappointment and ask themselves what happened to you. Are you bitter at the fact that the largest teacher union has not invited you to address our National General Council held recently? If you want a platform, approach the union and give us the opportunity to say NO Thanks, because we cannot take advice from the so-called academic who postures theory and delusion as the truth.

Please apologize to the 256 000 SADTU members and save from embarrassment the institutions that bestowed honorary doctorates on you by taking them back.

Please spare us the excuse “ I was misquoted”.