School principals between a rock and a hard place on ANAs

2015-11-27 18:31
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Durban - School principals nationally are walking on a knife's edge, weighing an order to administer Annual National Assessments (ANAs) against the potential of widespread industrial action.

The writing of the ANAs has been a pinch point for teacher unions and the national department of basic education, with the latter last week issuing an instruction that the tests be administered this year.

Governing Body Association CEO Tim Gordon said school principals had been placed in a precarious position.   

"What is worse here? Disobeying an instruction from the national education department or exposing schools and kids to the potential danger that comes with threatened industrial action?" he said.

"In the end, the principals will have to decide whether or not it is possible or reasonable to write. Even fetching the papers in some instances are difficult for schools to do.

"Anybody trying to find a less convenient or conducive time to write couldn’t have done a better job - it is a terrible time to write. The minister admitted in many schools, children are not even there and the staff are extremely busy with end-of-year administration... and marking their own assessments," Gordon said.

Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools deputy CEO Jaco Deacon said principals would face "serious consequences" if they did not administer the tests.  

"It is a legal instruction from the employer and that is insubordination if the principals do not follow this. They could face disciplinary action and that is the biggest risk," he said.

"There will be serious consequences. At least one union openly told their members not to administer the tests, but they do not sit before the hearings when they are eventually charged," Deacon said. 

Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers Union's (Sadtu) head of secretariat, Xolani Fakude, said: "We find it unacceptable that the department... is now employing scare tactics intimidating principals and teachers by trying to force them to administer ANAs, which in our view remains a wasteful expenditure."

Fakude said ANA in its current form was not a systemic diagnostic tool. 

"Initially, we agreed ANA was supposed to be a systemic diagnostic tool, but it has been reduced by the department into just another high stakes test, which is tantamount to the mechanisation of education."

He said the department was prioritising business over its learners. 

"It means it is no longer about the learners, but about the R200m that has been invested by the department. This is all about not violating contracts with service providers," Fakude said, adding the union would defend principals and teachers being intimidated. 

"We will not stand for that," he said. 

Read more on:    sadtu  |  education

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