5 February 2014
SADTU Limpopo Province is appalled by the latest display of insensitivity and total disrespect shown by the MEC of Education, Dikeledi Magadzi towards principals of underperforming schools in the province. In a carefully choreographed media spectacle the MEC decided to throw caution to the wind and fired a tirade at the poor principals without due regard to their human dignity and respect which forms part of their basic human rights. In a highly condescending manner the poor principals were called one by one to make a public declaration of how they were going to improve the results of their schools.
The less fortunate ones were given letters of the intention by the MEC to demote them. These theatrics by the MEC flies in the face of all known labour rights accorded to all parties in the workplace. Such shameless actions were known to be practiced by the apartheid apparatchiks and ideologues in a way to instill a psychosis of fear and intimidation to the toiling masses of our people. That the MEC seems to derive so much pleasure by such petulance speaks volumes about her commitment to improve the standard of education in the province.
As SADTU Limpopo we want to take very strong umbrage and exception to the intimidation of school principals by the overzealous MEC which does not take into consideration both objective and subjective factors that leads to underperformance of schools. We are on record as saying that we will not countenance underperformance of any nature as a union, more so if it comes about as a result of dereliction of duty by those in authority (read principals).
Equally the same we do not believe that a knee-jerk response will solve some of the problems as the MEC is want to believe. If the MEC wants to know what the root causes of some of these problems are, she need not look further than her bumbling department. It is the one that has laid the seed of these failures and underperformance by lack of proper planning, maladministration and total disregard for the welfare of both teachers and learners.
As SADTU we have on numerous occasions impressed upon the department to take the issue of teacher development seriously but our pleas fell on deaf ears. As we speak now all the other eight provinces have concluded the issue of training educators on CAPS in matric and senior phases (Grades 7,8,9). Limpopo has just concluded the training for matric educators only now in January 2014. We do not bet on her department to conclude trainings in the senior phase any time soon given the experience. While the majority of provinces have long paid the educators who marked last year (in 2013), markers in Limpopo have to wait until the learners they marked for have written their trimester tests before they could be paid. Just recently the MEC presided over the funeral of a learner who fell into a toilet. Such deathtraps of toilets are ubiquitous by their presence everywhere in the entire province. As we speak we have submitted a large dossier of schools who have not yet received textbooks or alternatively received short supplies.
The issue of skills development is a closed shop. For the past three years the department has not made any provision of the money deducted from the skills levy available to train educators and other workers. The department had to receive a bail out from ETDP SETA which agreed to train 200 principals and deputy principals on School Leadership and Management. The majority of principals who became principals before school leadership and management became compulsory to be appointed in such posts, will probably languish where they were when they were appointed.
Do we have to remind the MEC that her department has failed to spend close to R800 million earmarked for school infrastructure in 2013 due to sheer incompetency? As we speak now the majority of schools in the province have to make do with teaching in dilapidated buildings that have no infrastructure. Her department ranks as the one that pays the lowest amount per learner per quintile of norms and standards monies in the whole country. The majority of learners who passed matric have conceded that they saw a computer for the first time when they went to tertiary institutions. We believe these are the issues that should occupy her energy and attention instead of seeking shortcut solutions of pointing fingers at the wrong people.
Now as SADTU we understand that some of these challenges are consequences of deep-seated historical and systemic legacies that may not be wiped overnight. Equally we do not expect the MEC to come with superficial solutions to these somewhat deep seated challenges that education is facing.
Lastly, at the risk of preaching to the converted, we believe the MEC can do herself a favour by taking an elementary re-orientation course on what the Labour Relations Act, Employment of Educators Act, etcetera say about dealing with underperformance in the workplace. Surely she will know that you do not need a gun-ho attitude to deal with such. SADTU Limpopo would like to congratulate all the educators in the province for the sterling job they did last year regarding the matric pass that broke the psychological barrier of 70% despite all the challenges they have to undergo in order to achieve that. We strongly believe that educators deserve more encouragement than condemnation.
Prepared by Secretariat:
Cde Raphasha MJ - Provincial Secretary 082 804 0800
Cde Tjebane S.S - Provincial Deputy Secretary - 082 808 3161