Hey, Sadtu, leave them kids alone

2014-10-12 15:00

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Leaders of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) might have condemned a host of measures meant to keep teachers in check, but some of its own members are appalled by the union’s reluctance to take orders from anyone.

At its congress in Boksburg on Gauteng’s East Rand last week, the union rejected the basic education department’s proposal to implement Annual National Assessments (ANAs), a biometric clock-in system to monitor teachers’ attendance, competency tests for matric script markers and a move by government to have teaching declared an essential service.

With the latter in place, teachers won’t be able to strike.On the sidelines of the SA Principals’ Association conference in Polokwane this week, City Press chatted to members of Sadtu and other unions about the conference resolutions.

Agnes Rasesemola

School: Sunrise View Secondary, RustenbUrg

Union: Sadtu

‘Education should be declared an essential service. It is what we need as a country and it can’t be compromised. If our economy is to compete with other good economies, education has to be declared an essential service.”

Rasesemola said the idea of competency tests for matric script markers did not bother her.

“There is no problem with that, and I don’t know why teachers have a phobia for such tests. It is quality assurance. Teachers should be subjected to such tests.”

She also supports the biometric system, saying it is “needed urgently”. “All companies have a way to monitor the comings and goings of their employees. Why not us?”

Lebohang Nthlare

School: Gonyane Primary, Bloemfontein

Union: Sadtu

‘Declaring education an essential service is a good idea, but they shouldn’t tamper with our right to strike. But if [such a declaration] means we have to be in class even if our bread-and-butter issues are not taken care of, we reject it.”

Nthlare supports competency tests. “They are meant to ensure the marker is competent. If he is not competent, learners won’t be marked correctly.”

But he thinks a biometric clock-in system will transform schools into “prisons”. He’s happy to stick with the existing registers teachers sign every morning. As for ANAs, Nthlare is on the fence. “I don’t really know what to say on them. We will see as time goes on.”

Morake Mile

School: Rekgutlile Primary, Orange Farm

Union: Sadtu

‘It would be better if we declared education an essential service. “We should make it a priority.

“If we do so, it will show that we are concerned about the future of our country.” Mile says it’s ridiculous for teachers to check matrics’ competency but refuse to have their own abilities checked.

“Of course, [the test] shouldn’t be like a university question paper – it should be relevant to the subject the teacher will be marking.”

He’s not a fan of the biometric system. “It’s as if teachers are always away from school. If they are, it is because of the stress they get from teaching overcrowded classes without resources.”

Matome Motale

School: Mautsi Primary, Botlokwa

Union: Professional Educators Union

Like his colleagues, Motale said it was a no-brainer for education to be declared an essential service. “It will make us more committed to the profession and the kids. Teaching is a calling?–?we can’t just dump kids and go and protest.”

He calls competency tests “a brilliant idea” because “a geography teacher should be knowledgeable on the subject”. He says the biometric system is an absolute necessity.

“Teachers should be in class, teaching all the time. If we respect the profession, there is no reason to fear the biometric system. Obviously, those who oppose it have an agenda,” he says. He also gave ANAs the green light.

Isaac Shaolai

School: St Paul’s Primary, Thaba Nchu

Union: Sadtu

‘I don’t think declaring education an essential service is a good idea. If it is made an essential service, we won’t be able to strike.

“We want our lives to be improved as teachers. That is why we strike. We always have to fight with the department for everything we need.”

He doesn’t mind competency tests, but rejects both the biometric system and ANAs. “Why do we need the department to police us like small children?” Of the ANAs, he says: “It is just another layer of unnecessary work for both the kids and the teachers.

“I’ve never seen the implementation of any remedial action after the tests.”

Mmatshepo Ledwaba

Position: Head of Department

School: LM Mokoena, Hammanskraal

Union: National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA

Ledwaba doesn’t want to comment on the idea of education as an essential service, but calls competency tests “a good idea as it will ensure the markers themselves are up to par”.

She’s also fine with both the biometric clock-in system and ANAs as “management tools”.

“I just don’t get why people are rejecting it. Some people are not interested in teaching. They should just leave the profession,” she says. According to her, those teachers who don’t want ANAs must “get a life”.

Sihle Mbhele

School: Esidumbini Primary, Tongaat

Union: National Teachers’ Union

In many countries, Mbhele says, education is an essential service with unions, teachers and principals willingly treating it as such. “Our unions are screwing education if you ask me. Our education will improve greatly the day we declare it an essential service.” ANAs are necessary, according to him.

“It is because of such assessments that we now know there are big problems with literacy and numeracy in schools. So why do we want to wish them away?”

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