04 March 2010

COSATU CEC on Education


1 – 3 March 2010 COSATU CEC press statement



Education is the foundation on which all nations have liberated themselves, arguably more important than any other area of development.

Whilst we have made tremendous progress on many areas such as improving infrastructure, delivery of books, enrolment of children in particular the girl child, improving access by opening more no-fee schools, etc. we have not succeeded in transforming the education system in both quality and quantity.

The inequalities stubbornly remain in place. The poor’s children remain trapped in inferior education with wholly inadequate infrastructure. 70% of our schools do not have libraries and 60% do not have laboratories. 60% of children are pushed out of the schooling system before they reach grade 12.

Of the 1 550 790 South African children who started school in 1998, only 551 940 of them registered for the matric class. That is a drop-out rate of 64%. Of these 551 940 who wrote matric exams, only 334 609 (60.6%) passed matric and just 109 697 achieved university entrance. That means that 1 216 181 of the original 1998 intake are left with no qualifications and, given the current rate of unemployment, no jobs, no hope and no future. No wonder 75% of all the unemployed are made up of those who are below the age of 35 years. No wonder why there is so much crime and other social ills such collapse of family values, HIV/AIDS, etc.

A good number of schools in the former blacks-only residential areas are dysfunctional with a complete collapse of discipline.

The children of the rich are in private schools. The children of the middle class who are now joined by a minority of blacks are in the former Model C schools. Both private and former Model C schools are in varying degrees far better than the schools where the working class’s kids are attending.

In this context we warmly welcomed the selfless, heroic and revolutionary stance adopted by the SADTU leadership in its battle sometimes with its own structures and members to save generations of working class children from this unfolding tragedy. Recently SADTU sought not only to lead itself and other teacher unions but the society as well. We welcomed the statement of recommitment by SADTU, NAPTOSA and SAOU.

We have decided that for the sake our own children, and the generations to come to join hands with SADTU, NAPTOSA and SAOU and the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga who we also had an honour that she addressed the CEC to take the following steps and ensure that:

a.    Absenteeism among educators will be addressed and it will be required of all educators to complete attendance registers. 

b.    School management teams will complete and implement school timetables in the shortest possible time to ensure that schools can begin their academic programmes from the first formal day of the new school term;

c.    Unacceptable and unprofessional conduct by educators will not be tolerated, and that their members cannot expect that the unions will protect guilty educators in an unquestionable manner;

d.    Educators will strive to be positive role models to learners as well as in their respective communities;

e.    School feeding schemes will be properly administered and managed in a transparent and equitable manner;

f.     The appropriate LTSM will be provided to learners in the shortest time possible;

g.    Educators will prepare for classes in a manner that can be expected of dedicated professional educators;

h.    Educators will comply with their administrative responsibilities to ensure that schools and learners are not disadvantaged;

i.      Educators and schools will enforce the appropriate codes of conduct at all schools to ensure that learners will abide by fair and equitable school rules; and

j.      Educators will attend relevant in-service training courses regarding the curriculum and school management to ensure that they are able to teach and manage in the most effective manner.

Requisite support from educational authorities 

No education system can show meaningful progress unless the bureaucracy provides the required support to educators and schools and the respective provincial departments of education provide the enabling environment that makes it possible for schools to provide quality education. If such support is absent, or is not of an acceptable standard, schools find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide quality education.

We will campaign to ensure that workers who are the parents appreciate the critical role they can play in turning this situation around. In this regard we call on workers to stand for positions in the School Governing Bodies (SGBs), parents and learners, i.e. that SGBs will:

a.    Empower themselves by attending appropriate training courses to be able to comply with their fiduciary duties and responsibilities towards the respective schools and school communities;

b.    Provide the required support to schools and educators in a manner that will not intrude on the professional terrain of principals and educators;

c.    That parents will - 
  • Register learners timeously;
  • Ensure that learners will attend schools and comply with schools’ codes of conduct;
  • Comply with their financial obligations towards schools;
  • Attend the required school functions; and
  • Foster a climate of respect for education, schools and educators.

d. That learners will – 
  • Attend school conscientiously;
  • Work studiously and continuously;
  • Diligently abide by school rules at all times;
  • Show the required respect to schools and educators.