Fourteen years after liberation from apartheid, South Africa’s schools should by now have been transformed into forces of change and opportunity. Instead, our schools are, for the most part, scenes of neglect, lethargy and often violence. A situation has developed in the education system where the needs and interests of the true professionals among the teaching body have become swept away by the demands of job-sitters, who have created a climate where excellence goes virtually unnoticed and mediocrity dominates. Whereas the professional corps has a genuine commitment to teaching well and teachers do the best that they can for their pupils, the job-sitters are driven by self-interest. This situation has arisen for a number of reasons. The first is that the political activism that characterised trade union activity during apartheid continues today, with the voices of teachers’ unions protecting their own interests drowning out the voices of the children and parents who receive an inferior service from the members of these unions.