OUR VIEWPOINT: The damage SADTU is doing to education

2015-05-18 13:36
Angie Motshekga

Angie Motshekga (File)

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FIVE months after it was reported that SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) members were actively involved in influencing the appointment of teachers and principals, with allegations of money changing hands in the filling of posts, it appears little or nothing was done by the Education Department.

Only after further revelations of jobs being sold for cows and goats is Minister Angie Motshekga taking action. What was she doing in the past months? Did she think the problem would solve itself in the interim?

Of course the minister is in a difficult position, which presumably explains the dithering: the ANC is in an alliance with the unions, including Sadtu, and has to be seen to be championing the cause of workers. And, of course, Sadtu with its 200 000 members forms a powerful voting bloc to be therefore appeased — even at the cost of the quality of education being given to those touted as the future of the country.

Even allowing for the closeness of the relationship necessitated by the alliance, how did these Sadtu members work themselves into the position of deciding which teachers get employment? How did they become so involved in what must be the Education Department’s responsibility? Where is the oversight and governance?

Sadtu exists to protect the interests of teachers — to ensure they earn a decent salary while working under acceptable conditions — not to determine the appointment of teachers and principals. Like nursing, teaching is a noble calling, which these Sadtu members are perverting in ­favour of people who just want a job and have no interest in the profession other than having a job that pays at the end of each month. And this at the expense of qualified, experienced people who understand what it means to be a teacher.

The vicious circle is completed when Sadtu then has to defend the non-deserving appointees from justified accusations of incompetence, with the union simultaneously fighting tooth and nail against all attempts for teachers’ competencies to be tested, and in the process, the disadvantaged child is further disadvantaged.

It is surely time for Sadtu to do some soul-searching about the effect of its actions on the future of the child. At the same time, there should be a debate about the damage the union has wrought on education in the country.

Surely it must be possible to ensure workers’ rights while acting for the betterment of our country?

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