Pupils before power

2014-04-27 15:00

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has more than 250?000 members.

That’s a lot of teachers who have the power to influence hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of pupils’ lives.

City Press reveals today that top posts – including those of principal and deputy principal – are routinely sold for R30?000 or more in KwaZulu-Natal, and the same racket is being investigated by education authorities in North West and Limpopo.

This means that some of the most senior teachers guiding our children through a public schooling system that is already fraught with problems may be in their positions because of politics and money, rather than ability.

This hunger for power can be deadly, too.

Nyon’emhlophe Primary School principal Nkosinathi Zondi was shot dead last May because, the state claims, he blew the whistle on the alleged selling of tenders and senior positions.

There are alarming echoes of the 2009 murder of North West whistle-blower Moss Phakoe.

Not only was Phakoe gunned down after he tried to lift the lid on fraud, corruption and maladministration, but senior officials in the ANC allegedly ignored his warnings.

In this case, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says he learnt of the “cash for posts” racket in 2012 and asked Sadtu’s bosses to investigate.

But nothing was done.

Did Zondi die because union bosses were willing to turn a blind eye to what was allegedly happening under their noses?

Lobby group Equal Education is right: principals and circuit and district officials should simply not be allowed to be members of Sadtu because of the clear conflict of interest that arises.

When teachers are more worried about keeping their union masters happy, pupils suffer. And any further pressure on our already stricken public education system can’t possibly be good news.

Equal Education’s Doron Isaacs told City Press: “It makes it impossible for a principal to perform his job if he owes his position to Sadtu. He won’t be able to exercise real authority and the quality of students’ education will be compromised.”

Our children matter far more than power and position.

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