Tom Stokes, MPP Democratic Alliance KZN Spokesperson on Education Confirmation of a go-slow by SADTU’s KZN secretary – with the statement that “no chalk will be seen on blackboards” and “no tests will be marked or reports issued” speaks directly to the argument for reducing the powers of teacher unions. Sadtu is striking next week, simply because it does not agree with the national Education minister’s decision to introduce electronic fingerprinting registers to monitor teacher absenteeism, and her support of declaring teaching an essential service. Currently the teacher unions have the power to hurt innocent school children with impunity. There are no checks and balances against their irresponsible actions to disturb normal teaching. Parents and learners are powerless to counteract the unions’ actions in order to protect their rights to a proper schooling. Compounding this skewed power balance is the intimate relationship between Sadtu and the ANC-led government through their alliance with Cosatu. Effectively the role of the education Ministry and government officials, to represent the rights of parents and learners, is compromised by the overarching obligation of the political leadership in the Education Ministry to protect a significant sector of the ANC’s voter base. South Africa’s education system is the most politicized in the world. It is also one of the worst performing. Clearly there is a connection between the two and until schools revert back to sites of learning rather than political terrains our performance as a country will continue to be an embarrassment.