The ANC has proposed extending the schooling period to 14 years instead of 12. Speaking at the party’s election manifesto launch in Mbombela over the weekend, President Jacob Zuma said there were plans to add another year to the school timetable, in addition to Grade R, which is already being phased in, The Mercury reported today. Chapter nine of the government’s development blueprint states that two years of quality preschool enrolment for 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds be made compulsory before Grade 1. Teacher unions support the plan, but say that certain guarantees must be provided. While Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has stressed the importance of Grade R teaching, unions complain that many Grade R teachers are unqualified, and are effectively “child-minders” rather than teachers, the Mercury reported. The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) says the organisation supports extending the schooling system to 14 years, but wants a guarantee that the necessary materials will be provided.