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Finger-pointing deadlock

Heated words are flying between the Department of Education (DoE) and teacher unions as they blame each other for the faltering process of teacher appraisals.

The snails pace at which the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) has unfolded is the crux of the trouble, as time frames agreed to in 2003 have not been met.

First, educators were supposed to be trained by provincial departments to implement the IQMS. But in a joint statement by all four teacher unions in June this year, the provincial education departments were slammed for their incapacity and rank incompetence that has seen little training taking place — and any that has, apparently of poor quality.

The DoE, however, counters that Sadtu [the South African Democratic Teachers Union] has hampered the process by advising some of [its] members not to attend training programmes on the IQMS.

The knock-on effect of these delays is that very few educators summative evaluations — which were to be completed by the end of last year have been carried out. Meanwhile, the deadline of July 1 for these has come and gone.

All importantly, tied to these summative evaluations is the 1% salary notch increase on the basis of good performance. And this is where the finger-pointing goes beyond petty bickering. A crucial part of the IQMS collective agreement states that if an educator, who through no fault of his/her own, is not subjected to the implementation of the evaluation instrument [by July 1], he/she will qualify for salary [or grade] progression.

In the DoEs view, teachers are to blame. This, says the DoE, means that educators cannot claim the rights included in the clause that provides for automatic implementation. Rather, they will assess the performance of every teacher before deciding who qualifies for the 1% notch increase. This will be done during the course of the year, and payments will be backdated to 1 July 2005.

But, the teacher unions are standing firm, accusing the DoE of attempting to renege on a signed agreement.

The Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, is due to meet with the unions later this month in an attempt to resolve the deadlock.

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