Sadtu opposes reclassification of education
A call for teaching to be declared an essential service and de-unionised is naïve, attention-seeking and shows little understanding of the inequalities in education, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said on Monday.
“We reject such a call. The declaration of teaching as an essential service won’t address the challenges facing education but will instead, cover them up,” Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said in a statement.
National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) chairperson Andile Lungisa has reportedly blamed unions for the crisis in the basic education system.
He was quoted as saying poor matric results, particularly in previously disadvantaged schools, could be linked to union activities.
“Education must be made an essential service. We must not use the strategies used in factories and industries for education,” Lungisa said.
“If we don’t deal with unions [in the education system] this country will not succeed and we will be sabotaging future generations.”
However, Sadtu said it did not see this as assisting in improving the quality of education but as eroding victories by the working class.
“We are not being sentimental ... but are stating the facts,” said Maluleke.
He said Sadtu had always warned about placing blame rather than taking collective responsibility for turning around the situation.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has condemned Lungisa’s comments as “unfortunate” and “baseless”.
“This ideological onslaught on teacher unions is premised on the false notion that organised teachers are selfishly concerned about themselves and could not care less about learners,” it said in a statement.
“This reasoning accords all the blame for our malfunctioning education system to teachers who are organised in unions.”
The Democratic Alliance Youth welcomed the NYDA’s call.
“South African children receive one of the worst standards of education in the world; a fact confirmed by a variety of studies,” the DA Youth said in a statement.
“There are many reasons for this but it is certain that nothing can be done to improve the situation without first having all teachers in their classrooms for all the hours that their contracts require them to be there.”
It said that according to a study done by independent dispute resolution company Tokiso, Sadtu was responsible for 42% of all work days lost between 1995 and 2009.
“The consequences of attempting to obtain an education in this environment do indeed ... create enormous inconvenience to the lives of learners.”
Earlier, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said people should stop politicising education.
“All of us have an important task of ensuring that we leave a legacy that ensures that the African child receives the best education standard possible,” he said.
“We therefore need to stop politicising education as the only political issue we need to be concerned about is the learner in the classroom.”
Gigaba said people should be concerned with instilling the culture of learning within the black community.—Sapa