Teachers disgusted by waste of levies

Teachers have expressed dismay at the “waste” of levies they pay to the South African Council of Educators (Sace).The levies have been used to buy a R12-million building in Pretoria and the chief executive earns more than R1-million a year.

Teachers must be registered with Sace, the profession’s statutory governing body.

According to the council’s 2008-2009 annual report, a further possible R48-million must be spent on renovating the new building.

It has decided to ask teachers to contribute additional levies for 12 months, with the approval of the education ministry, to provide for the building and the development of provincial offices.

The annual report indicates that the council’s chief executive, Rej Brijraj, received a salary increase of 24%—from R960 437 in 2008 to R1,18-million this year.

An experienced school principal earns about R320 000 a year, while an experienced department head earns about R245 000.

Sace is supposed to regulate the teaching sector, provide professional development for teachers and enforce an ethical code.

The 574 681 teachers on its database each contribute R72 a year to the council, which represents all teachers’ unions.

Teachers in three provinces interviewed by the Mail & Guardian this week expressed disgust at the “waste of funds” by Sace, saying they did not understand its role in teacher development.

A Northern Cape teacher, who declined to be named, said the only time teachers see Sace officials is when they are being disciplined or fired.

Free State principal Adelina Mangwegape said Sace does not keep in touch with teachers and new teachers constantly encounter problems when registering for membership.

Mangwegape also said that some teachers struggle to rectify mistakes made by Sace on the professional certificates they require to work in the profession.

“We have to travel to Pretoria to fix them because there are no provincial offices,” she said.

Western Cape teacher Rashieda Jardien said: “We pay fees every month, but don’t really know what we are paying for.”

Sace spokesperson Themba Ndhlovu said this week that the purchase of the building on Pretoria’s Visagie Street is part of Sace’s efforts to secure “proper” accommodation.

Ndhlovu said the council is growing and the recent adoption of the Continuing Professional Teacher Development system, has forced it to seek larger premises to accommodate teachers attending workshops and seminars.

Ndhlovu said Brijraj’s new salary package was based on a job evaluation recommendation. The education department reviewed the package, “but nothing was raised with the council to indicate any reservation”.

He also said a concerted effort was being made to communicate developments at Sace to teachers and that the council is establishing new provincial offices in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.

Brijraj agreed that more advocacy and outreach are needed to engage teachers and make the council more accessible.

“A lot of teachers don’t understand what the council does. But we are the guiding force for them and should be able to reach out to all our members,” he said.

On his pay rise Brijraj conceded that “from the outside it does look as if people are enriching themselves with teachers’ money”.

However, he emphasised that teacher union members on the Sace council had approved the increases.

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