Tom Stokes, MPP
KZN Democratic Alliance Spokesperson on Education
The recent call from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa for education to be declared a “essential service” – so that teachers once again conceive of their occupation as a “calling” rather than merely a salaried job – is another in a growing body of citizens who believe that the unionization of teaching is at the heart of the disintegration of our education system.
Of course Sadtu’s response is the usual knee-jerk, discrediting the originators of this echoing call and attempting to shift the blame from poor teaching to inadequate classroom resources.
There is no denying that most of our schools in KwaZulu-Natal are under-resourced and that it is an inherited calamity from our dark past which must be addressed with the utmost vigour. There is also truth in the assertion that most Sadtu members wish to be good teachers, and in fact many of them are excellent and totally dedicated to the cause.
But it is also true that we cannot transform the massive inadequacies in our teaching corps while teacher unions stand in the way and frustrate remedial initiatives. It is also true that the power of teacher unions has grown to such an extent that the authority of principals and education officials are undermined by union politics, and schools frequently close at a moment’s notice because teachers are called to union meetings.
This has to change and the Anglican Church’s unequivocal stance on the return to a moral driven professional teaching ethic will undoubtedly resonate with millions of parents across the country.