Teaching posts for ‘sale’ harms education

The role labour unions must play in the life of every employee can never be disavowed. Even if we think of teaching as an essential service, it is difficult to contemplate teachers not being unionised.

But the alleged sale of teacher posts by some members of teacher unions is shocking.

Ideally, effective teacher unions advise members on various matters, including professional development. Teachers in unions acquire an enhanced voice. And big-voiced teacher unions can partner other advocates for change in the education transformation debate.

But there are still those who believe less unionised teachers will result in a better school system, and that teacher unions cannot solve any educational problems because they are the problem.

In the struggle for liberation in South Africa, the trade union movement played a vital role. Not only did teachers use their militancy to fight for a democratic education, they also sacrificed their lives for a free South Africa.

People view labour union actions by teachers with disdain. They don’t support teachers in “chalk-down” strikes. Rarely do teacher unions fight for pupils’ rights or lead social justice-inspired actions to improve conditions in schools.

The alleged selling of teaching jobs has been going on since as early as 2014. Improper manipulation of teacher appointments harms pupils’ learning and how school programmes are run.

With the many problems in education, this is unfortunate, considering the initiatives tried by many to heal a weak education system. Some members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union, South Africa’s largest teacher union, are implicated in the sale of teacher posts. This is a cause for concern, although some still argue that these are mere allegations that still need to be proved.

Buying teacher posts is an injustice to not only fellow teachers but also to the pupils and their families. It short-changes those who still have faith in the education system, and there are many such families who pin all their hopes on a better education for their offspring. One cannot be certain that those who buy posts will be able to command their colleagues’ respect; it is also unfair to those who have worked hard with the hope of moving up the professional ladder in fair competition.

Adversarial relationships between school managers and union members do not build schools. If teaching posts are being sold, it needs to be condemned by all, including teachers. The history of teacher unionism in South Africa has shown how teachers could be a conduit of liberation and educational change. In fact, we desperately need strong teacher unions to fight for teachers’ rights as well as free quality education. 

Vuyisile Msila heads Unisa’s African Renaissance Studies institute. He writes here in his personal capacity

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Not a sweet deal, Mister

Mister Sweet workers say they will not risk their health, and the lives of others, to continue producing and packaging confectionaries

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Stay at home, Cyril said. But what about the homeless?

In Tshwane, forcing homeless people off the street resulted in chaos and the abuse of a vulnerable population. In Durban, a smooth, well-planned operation fared far better

Press Releases

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world