By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Education in the Northern Cape:
The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape is concerned that the department of Basic Education has buckled under pressure from teacher union Sadtu and decided to postpone the annual national assessments.
The ANAs are a crucial diagnostic tool which can identify patterns of performance and highlight areas of concern. Interventions which can improve the numeracy and literacy of our children are based on the outcomes of the ANAs. For example, the previous ANA showed that some learners in the province struggle with sums involving fractions. So we know that interventions aimed at improving an understanding of fractions must be aggressively implemented. Without ANAs to identify hotspots of this nature, we cannot know how to improve the quality of education for our children.
Aside from undermining the quality of the education system, the decision to postpone ANAs will result in huge fruitless and wasteful expenditure. It is easy to say that costs will not be duplicated, as schools have been instructed to return the question papers. But in reality, we will be paying three times for one paper to be delivered.
Costs were incurred to distribute the question papers to schools, costs will be incurred to return the papers to the department and, when the ANAs do take place, even more distribution costs will be incurred.
There is also a massive amount of man hours lost. Extensive preparations were made by the Northern Cape department of Education as well as the staff of an estimated 424 primary schools.
The integrity of the question papers also hangs in the balance. It is easy to say that schools were instructed to return the papers, but there is always a risk that papers for any examination can be leaked.
The ANAs will be no exception.
Sadtu is, of course, the same union that blocks the introduction of performance contracts for school principals and stonewalls attempts to hold principals to account for poor school performance.
We cannot allow for unions to dictate the terms and conditions of the education system.