Sadtu no longer about teachers. But what about our children?

2014-10-13 06:45

City Press staffers have their say

Zinhle Mapumulo

All I can say to Sadtu leaders and their members is: Sit down and focus on what you are being paid to do.

This union is never happy with anything pertaining to the development of education and our children.

Members go on strike at the drop of a hat. Sometimes it’s for a legitimate reason, but they often strike to show they can cripple the public education system because they claim the lion’s share of membership among teacher unions.

Sadtu’s latest stance on the annual national assessments, competency tests for matric markers, education being declared an essential service and teachers being monitored in class to ensure they do what they are being paid for, and put in the hours they are supposed to, is just another of its attention-seeking tactics.

Why does it believe assessments must be scrapped and that matric markers should not be tested for competency?

If I was a teacher, I would jump at the chance of having my competency tested and at being monitored. Well, maybe I am taking this at face value because I’m not a teacher. Nevertheless, our children’s futures depend on the teaching they receive in class.

As a parent, I am in favour of the assessments?–?because the results will show my child is getting the required education for the thousands I part with yearly?– and for the matric markers’ competency being tested.

Yolandi Groenewald

My six-year-old wants to be the next big engineer, so we’ve put our faith in the public school system to make his dream a reality. Our decision might be a shocker.

Last year, only 3% of the Grade 9s who took the annual national assessments passed with 50% in maths. A Stellenbosch University study showed nearly 80% of Grade 6 maths teachers could not do the sums they had to teach.

So last week, when the country’s biggest teacher union Sadtu said no to the annual national assessments and to being monitored to ensure that teachers stay in class, I wondered if I should not reach for enrolment forms for affordable private schools.

The tests are used to label schools, putting the blame of poor performance on teachers, according to the union. Don’t even tell the union bosses about education being made an essential service. Add to this teachers who strike at the drop of a hat and matric markers who refuse to be evaluated, and I’m worried.

But the middle class public school my son will attend seems light years away from the struggles of our public school system. An iron-fisted principal ensures his teachers are at school every day.

Teachers are constantly measured. Laziness is not tolerated?–?and the school is one of the best performers in maths in Gauteng, and welcomes spot visits by the department. This school is a Sadtu member’s worst nightmare, judging by the union’s mantra.

Gayle Edmunds

It can’t be called a gap any more. It’s an abyss.

The gaping chasm between the knows and the know-nots is widening anyway.

The bizarre agreements reached by Sadtu at its annual conference will probably contribute to us squandering the potential of more of our children. The knowledge economy is fast and ruthless, and it’s going to get even more competitive.

Next year, I enter the school system as my only child begins Grade 0. I will not be taking a chance on a government school, I just can’t take the required 12-year risk it involves.

My husband and I will tighten up, eat baked beans and pay up to ensure we have plenty of say on who our child is taught by and how well that teaching is done. We will hold ourselves and the school accountable for our child’s education.

We are the fortunate ones. What about the majority of South African parents for whom private education is not an option? It matters to all of us that children aren’t taught properly, that they go to school and aren’t safe, that they aren’t learning, and that they aren’t given access to the wonders of the world.

Our children are the potential we need to realise to create the South Africa we have been promised.

Rapule Tabane

The first sign something was amiss with Sadtu’s conference was its theme: Restore the character of Sadtu as a union of revolutionary professionals, agents of change and champions of people’s education for people’s power in pursuit of socialism.

I wonder if any of the teachers understood this slogan and if they see their calling in life as agents of change, champions of people’s education and for people’s power in pursuit of socialism.

As a parent, this is not what would have immediately come to mind if I was asked what a teacher’s role was in relation to my children. The dishonesty and refusal to face up to the real issues in the discussions were also striking. There was a sneering dig at the media in the president’s report and the final declaration.

This suggested they were more upset at something the media had written about, which they could not bring themselves to discuss.

Sadtu president Magope Maphila condemned “sporadic or unthought-of interventions which continue to plunge the system into chaos. Education cannot be run by the media?...?We as Sadtu are not pleased that each time an article appears in the press, panic buttons are pressed and it is immediately a national crisis.”

I deduced they were upset by Angie Motshekga’s inquiry into the selling of posts by Sadtu teachers and principals, which City Press had exposed.

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