We won’t administer assessments: Teachers defy Motshekga

Teachers are not going to administer the annual national assessments and there is nothing that the department of basic education can do about it, defiant unions have said.

Unions are defying Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her director-general Matanzima Mweli, who issued a statement yesterday calling for schools to administer the diagnostic tests between today and next Friday.

Nkosana Dolopi, secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, the biggest union in the sector, said: “It doesn’t make sense. Pupils are not at school. We can’t administer something which they [department] have admitted is flawed. Until it is remodelled, we will not administer it. We told our members not to administer it. We have sent them SMS messages.”

Equally annoyed by the department was the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa.

The union’s deputy president, Anthea Cereseto, said: “We will not administer them and there is nothing that the department can do about it. All the unions are saying that we don’t believe the annual national assessments are a credible assessment. It is also not appropriate to do them at this time of the year. We had an agreement to postpone them and do them next year once they have been remodelled. This is not the remodelled one.” 

The unions, she said, were extremely disappointed and would not administer the tests because they were flawed and not systematic.

“In general, it is too late in the year to be doing the tests. Teachers and pupils are very tired,” she said.

Yesterday, the department issued a statement saying: “The department can confirm that a circular has been issued to schools instructing them to administer the annual national assessments at a time that is convenient for them to do so between November 26 and December 4. These assessments are an important diagnostic tool used to identify and remediate challenges in the sector. We have agreed with teacher unions that there is a need to reform the current model of the assessments and have invited teacher unions to work with the department to make recommendations based on their experiences in this regard.”

Cereseto accused Motshekga of abandoning a mediating process aimed at finding a solution to the deadlock between the department and the union on the last minute.

However, Motshekga said the mediation process was jeopardised by the unions’ insistence that participation in the assessments should be voluntary. 
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