Dr. Allan Grootboom, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson on Education
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is dismayed at the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) rejection of competency tests for matric exam markers. How can a teachers union hold such a negative attitude to a measure aimed at improving the quality of our education system?
The comments attributed to SADTU provincial secretary, Sipho Mayongo, in recent media, in which he said that competency tests, “would exclude many teachers” is gobbledygook.
It is simply a red-herring for SADTU to cite the shortage of resources in some schools as a reason to not subject exam markers, and indeed all teachers, to sorely needed competency tests.
Competency tests are aimed at improving the quality of exam script marking, and in general the overall quality of teaching that our learners receive. Such tests also assist teachers who have gaps in their knowledge of the content, to receive the necessary assistance and training they need to be better educators and exam markers.
Numerous studies have been conducted which point to the urgent need for educators to undergo testing and training.
The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ), found that more than half of grade 6 teachers failed a grade 6 language and mathematics test. In another study, the National Education and Evaluation Unit (NEEDU), found that a large proportion of South African teachers can’t teach, and that many won’t make the effort required to do so. In all instances it is the learner who suffers.
The DA believes that SADTU should not fudge the issue and ignore the facts. They need to place the interests of our learners first. There is an urgent need for all our teachers and exam markers, to undergo regular competency tests and receive the best training to sharpen their skills.
In the DA-run Western Cape, the education department has administered competency testing for their markers. The competency test assessed knowledge of subject content, application of that content to the examination situation and marking ability. These measures ensure learners and educators are empowered and better prepared for the upcoming examinations.
The DA is calling on Education MEC Griezelda Cjiekella to follow the lead of the DA-run Western Cape Education Department, and enhance the credibility of the National Senior Certificate Examinations by administering competency testing for markers.