South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) has echoed President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma’s words during his State of the Nation Address that South Africa is indeed a good country to live in. In a speech that not only reflected on the year but the twenty years of the new democracy the President managed to soberly judge the situation by further acknowledging that the country still faced the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. He did not shy away from the challenges facing South Africa such as high unemployment and the strength of the rand but highlighted plans that have been put in place to alleviate the situation.

Focusing on the five priorities – education, health, the fight against crime and corruption, rural development and land reform, we welcome the improvements but more could still be done.

  • In education:  the number of children attending Grade R has more than doubled between 2003 and 2011. Eight million children do not pay school fees while 9 million receive free healthy meals. We welcome the fact that a draft policy framework towards Universal Access to Grade R has been gazetted for public comment with the view of making Grade R compulsory. We are however aware that although more children access education, a huge number of learners still do not finish their matric.  We would like to see government embarking on more detailed research to find out why these children still leave without completing matric and what could be done to ensure they remain until they finish. The high level of drop outs must be a concern to everyone and we call upon the communities to work with schools to shed light on the  causes and possible solutions
  • We welcome the introduction of sign language in our schools from next year – 2015.
  • Investing in teacher training: “SADTU’s yearly heart cry has been answered. Government is now investing in teacher training and re-opening teacher training colleges,” SADTU General Secretary Mugwena Maluleke said.
  • We welcome the 12% increase of student enrolments at Universities while enrolment in Further Education and Training Colleges has increased by 90%.
  • We also welcome the news that 12 new FET Colleges will be built in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.

We urge government to redouble the efforts in dealing with corruption so that the resources are directed to address basic services. Education is stabilizing because SADTU has exposed corrupt officials who were stealing from the public purse and not delivering textbooks to learners. SADTU will continue to fight against corruption.

We must remind people that the apartheid government never built a single school in rural areas and those built in the townships lacked facilities that supported effective teaching and learning. The eradication of mud schools by the ANC government is welcomed. The DA as a representative of apartheid and white monopoly capital must be exposed for posturing and wanting to use the poor people of our country as a voting fodder. Companies are not creating decent jobs and continue to demand that labor brokering not be banned obviously supported by the DA.

We further express our concern with lack of direction on radical economic transformation.

We welcome the president`s concerns on violence. This is important because the minority apartheid government violated the majority and institutionalized violence in our country. We in education must work hard to help our communities to rid our country of violence. We must do this by teaching our learners conflict resolutions skills and help our teachers to use alternatives to corporal punishment. 

We also welcome efforts to improve health care. 300 new health facilities have been built including 160 new clinics, the sharp decline in the mother to child HIV transmissions and the upward trend of life expectancy.

We also welcome effort to focus on crime against women and children. We welcome the opening of Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units as well as Sexual Offences Courts.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat