SADTU TEACHERS SAY NO TO:
ANNUAL NATIONAL ASSESSMENTS COMPETENCY TESTS FOR MARKERS BEING AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE BEING TIME MONITORED
Aquarter of a million of South Africa’s teachers want Annual National Assessment tests used to measure pupils’ numeracy and literacy scrapped. This because, according to them, these assessments are used to “blame” teachers for learners’ poor performance. The rejection of the test – aimed at improving learning and teaching – was outlined in the secretariat report of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), which was discussed at the union’s congress on Gauteng’s East Rand this week.
“The purpose of the Annual National Assessment defeats the type of society that is envisaged in the Constitution – that is, creating analytical and critical thinkers,” Sadtu said in the report, which City Press has seen. “Instead of being a diagnostic tool to help schools improve teaching and learning, the ... tests are used to label schools, placing the blame of poor performance at the door of teachers.”
In the report, South Africa’s biggest teacher union, representing more than 254 000 of the country’s approximately 446 000 educators, reiterated its rejection of: A biometric system to monitor teacher attendance. Competency tests for matric script markers. The move to declare education an essential service that would prevent teachers from ever being able to go on strike.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga – one of Sadtu’s longtime foes – introduced the assessments in 2011 to measure pupils’ numeracy and literacy in grades 1 to 6 and Grade 9.
While some education experts have questioned aspects of the assessments, most agree they’ve been a highlight of Motshekga’s time as minister.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said he was aware of Sadtu’s rejection of many of its policy proposals. “But one union will not dictate to us how things should be done. We will consider the views of other unions. Other unions are supportive of many of our policies,” he said.
Last year, the union rejected Motshekga’s move to implement a biometric system that would have seen teachers clock in and out of school using their fingerprints. This despite a study by the Human Sciences Research Council in 2010 that found between 10% and 12% (about 39 000) teachers bunked school daily.
“Our view back then was and still is that it is illogical to set up biometric devices while a significant number of schools still lacked proper sanitation facilities; classroom structures; and basics such as electricity, water, libraries, labs, desks, chairs and administration blocks,” reads the secretariat report. Motshekga also indicated last year she was considering bringing back school inspectors to perform spot checks through unannounced visits to schools. Sadtu made it clear at the time that it would resist the move at all costs. Recently, the union also objected to competency tests for matric script markers.
“We have been through this before and just as we rejected it previously, we will reject it with the same vigour,” the report reads, “This proposal lacks the comprehensivity that must define our approach to education. In our view, the proposal is done in bad faith and has punitive rather than constructive intent.” The union argues that since teachers mark scripts throughout the year, there is no need to subject matric script markers to competency tests.
Another policy the union unequivocally rejected was education being declared an essential service.
“We brought it to the attention of decision makers that “essentialising” education would be nothing short of a “microwave” solution and short-sighted in the extreme. In our view, it would have limited our conversation about the real problems in our education system,” the report reads.
Three years ago, the Western Cape education department’s plan to introduce performance contracts for principals and their deputies was met with resistance from Sadtu.