Teacher unions thrilled as national assessments are postponed

2015-09-11 16:49
Newly appointed Director General Matanzima Mweli. Picture: Veli Nhlapo

Newly appointed Director General Matanzima Mweli. Picture: Veli Nhlapo

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The basic education department has decided to postpone the administration of the Annual National Assessment to February next year following the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union’s decision to boycott the tests. 

The department has also announced that it will set up a task team to consider a proposal that the tests should be administered on a three-year cycle instead of once a year. 

Addressing the media in Boksburg, newly appointed Director General Matanzima Mweli said: “The three major unions, Sadtu, National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa and the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie have in recent weeks publicly expressed concerns about the administration of the tests. The main concern of the unions relates to the frequency of the administration of the tests. Its administrative demands did not leave enough room for improvement targets to take root before learners were re-assessed.” 

Mweli said the department and the unions agreed to reschedule the tests to the first week of February next year. 

“It was agreed that the schooling environment, given the prevailing conditions and union concerns, was not conducive to the writing of this very significant test, which provides valuable information on learner performance at the national, provincial, district and school level.” 

He said the tests will be remodelled and relaunched in February. 

Over the next 90 days, the task team will engage the teacher unions and address their concerns so that the future design features of the national assessment are more amenable to schools, teachers, learners and parents. 

Naptosa’s president Basil Manuel said the union was not rejecting systemic evaluations. The tests, he said, led to the drawing of the “fancy diagnostic” report, whose recommendations were not implemented because of the lack of time. 

“The postponement will give time for the remodelling. We will now work towards ensuring we get it off the ground as soon as possible.” 

He said if the three-year proposal was implemented, it would allow for the recommendations of the diagnostic report to be implemented. Naptosa, he said, also had misgivings about the quality of the tests themselves. 

Sadtu’s president Magope Maphila echoed the same sentiments. 

“There must be a national assessment. What we reject is ‘annual’. The three-year cycle will give an opportunity for gaps to be addressed.” 

Maphila said the other problem was that, shortly before the tests, teachers stop teaching and focus on the tests. 

“They stop teaching, and teach for the tests.” 

The Annual National Assessment tests pupils’ numeracy and literacy competency. The tests, which were introduced in 2011, are administered to all pupils between grades one and nine. 

» Follow City Press education reporter Sipho Masondo on @vercingetorics 

Read more on:    sadtu  |  naptosa  |  teachers

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