Letter to the Editor – Sadtu: The worst thing to happen to Education in our country

By Mbali Ntuli, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Education:

A RECENT KZN Education portfolio committee report revealed that it would take some R60 billion and 17 years to make the province’s Educational system functional. The report however did not include the influence of SADTU into its calculations.

SADTU has a stranglehold on this country’s Education system that has steadily seen the decline in teaching time, results and the basic level of arithmetic and literacy amongst learners. Not to mention the politicisation of posts, the intimidation of good educators, the selling of posts and the ever-growing interference of the union within the Education department.

Certainly, the DA in KZN has asked who actually runs the department many times.  This as a result of HOD Nkosinathi Sishi and MEC Peggy Nkonyeni’s apparent reluctance to use their authority and position to reign in SADTU.

Our province has the most schools in the toughest geographical distances.  We simply cannot afford to be hamstrung by a union that does not even seem to have its member’s best interests at heart.

Increasingly SADTU has become a union for the elite and a means to protect those high-ranking officials who display impunity for their primary role – that of educating learners.

There is no better display of SADTU’s arrogance than their recent call and imposition to cancel the Annual National Assessments (ANA) for 2015.

Annual national assessments are a mechanism to ensure that learners are tested to determine their levels of arithmetic and literacy. The importance of these assessments would help identify and remedy problems picked up amongst learners.

It is one of the better initiatives from the Education ministry to yearly track whether learners are actually learning what they need to equip them for the real world.

Given Sadtu’s demand that the assessments be postponed it is unsurprising to discover that many teachers have been found to be unable to complete the assessments themselves.

 

This is not the case in every province though. The DA-run Western Cape has made Education a priority because it understands that Education is the only way to ensure learners are able to take advantage of a life with freedom, fairness and opportunity.

 

The DA in the Western Cape exercises its management prerogative. The Western Cape Education Department runs education in the province. SADTU does not.

The assessments are independently set and administered. The interruption of schooling is limited to the time it takes to write the tests. The tests are marked independently. They are internationally benchmarked to ensure the best possible assessment, and are comparable year on year and grade on grade. They allow truly credible evidence on which to base meaningful literacy and numeracy interventions.

 

KZN’s ANC led government needs to show leadership and prove that SADTU does not control education in our province.  More importantly, it must show that SADTU will not be the deciders of hundreds of thousands of learners’ lives.

 

Seventeen years and R60billion is enough of an obstacle to ensuring quality Education in KZN – we cannot afford to have SADTU add to the problems of finally getting this country back on track.