We have noted the regrettable remarks by the incumbent director general of the Department of Basic Education Bobby Soobrayan advocating for the early exit of experienced teachers from the system to make way for new ones. Firstly we must mention that we are taken aback by this tendency of publicly announcing on policy matters without any prior engagement with all the critical stake holders including organized labour.

This behavior in fact is vindicating us as we have always maintained that the incumbent director general is antagonistic towards collective bargaining and does not respect nor recognize the institutions that have been designed to ensure labour peace in this critical area.  Bobby Soobrayan is continuing to run the department of basic education as if it were a spaza shop or his personal fiefdom forgetting that we have established institutions where such policy matters must be engaged first before pronouncements in the media.

It would thus not be too farfetched to conclude that this is an individual who is in actual fact proactively working against the ANC government as we move towards the general elections to plunge an apex priority area into a national crisis. The director general is hell bent on de-campaigning the movement of the people by continuing to boost some of the misleading arguments of the opposition and these mushrooming political platforms.

Secondly even if we were to engage the director general in the appropriate platforms and not the media as he chooses to do we would reject any suggestion that experienced teachers must exit the system early to make way for new ones and one would not require the academic credentials of a nuclear scientist to see why. Such a suggestion defies logic, is completely oblivious of the reality on the ground and is symptomatic of a chief accounting officer who lacks a vision and cannot see beyond the supply chain structures of the department.

The reality on the ground is that as a country we are currently producing approximately 5 000 teachers a year where as research after research has indicated that we need to yield atleast 20 000 per annum. The question therefore is that how are we expected to reduce the teacher/learner ratio which is on average higher than required when we want experienced teachers to take an early exit from the system?

What we should be doing instead is to put in place systems that will provide an opportunity for the experienced and skilled teachers to mentor the newer ones in the system and help them to gain the required competencies to be able to produce results. The suggestion or rather policy pronouncement by the incumbent director general is therefore completely narrow minded and short sighted indicative of an individual who does not take the education of the African working class child seriously.

In fact under the leadership of this director general the department of basic education does not even have a teacher recruitment plan that we know of which is where we would have expected them to start. We also want to urge all our members to not waste any sleep on the basis of what Bobby Soobrayan says, this man is not to be taken seriously and we have made it clear that we do not recognize him.

It is clear that Bobby Soobrayan is an obstacle to labour peace, progress and stability to this department that has been designated an apex priority by the ANC government. It is because of his incompetence that even individuals with well known limitations suddenly think that they can launch parties to contest elections on the basis of challenges in the education sector.

We will play our part and make sure that we intensify our campaign to get him dismissed from the department. We will continue to call for his head and will not rest until he clears his office and goes to focus on his passion being self enrichment outside of our government!!!

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat