Mmusi Maimane wants to de-professionalise and police teachers like HF Verwoerd

16 February 2017

SADTU has noted, with concern, the remarks by DA leader, Mmusi Maimane in his response to the State of the Nation Address on the 14th of February 2017. The DA leader in his speech made reference to SADTU and suggested that as a union, we were "destructive" in the sector. This rented DA leader went further to comment on education policy and suggested that under his party's leadership, he would introduce a "National Education Inspectorate" whose main task would be to "police" teachers in an effort to curtail SADTU's influence.

What is clear is that the DA leader knows very little about the basic education sector; this is the only explanation that we can come up with for his obsession with SADTU. Whilst we appreciate that it comes with the territory of being by far the largest Union in the sector, we will not be silent spectators. We see this as a desperate attempt by him to sound relevant and to give an impression that he actually does have knowledge of what he is talking about. The DA does not have any innovative and new ideas on how we can achieve better educa-tion outcomes and has resorted to SADTU bashing.

Consistently, the DA has chosen to blame SADTU for every undesirable occurrence in the sector. It has identified the Union as the main problem and surely if it had more than just the opposition benches in Parliament, the Union would not be in existence. The DA's permanent anti-Union and anti-collective bargaining posture must be seen for what it truly is, a concerted effort by the pro-capital and neo-liberal Free Market Foundation inspired ensem-ble to reverse workers rights.

The DA must not use us as a decoy from the real issue, which is that it has absolutely no idea how we can improve the sector; instead it relies on a very tired strategy to blame SADTU.

It would be advisable for the DA to make some time and study some of the best education systems in the world; it will appreciate that most of these have a 100 % unionisation in the sector. These are governments that have chosen to see organised labour as part of the solu-tion and not the problem.

Maimane's call for the establishment of a National Education Inspectorate shows the depth of the DA's naivety. As a Union we have always maintained that we are not averse to as-sessment, monitoring and evaluation provided that these are done for the right reasons and not for the purposes of "policing" and de-professionalising teachers. We want to make it categorically clear that we will never accept an "inspectorate" of any sorts in the sector. It never worked before under HF Verwoerd and it will never work now under a democratic dispensation.

The DA and its poster boy Mmusi Maimane should know that teachers, as a variable in the education value chain, contribute only about 16 % according to a research conducted by Education International and an earlier one by the University of Stellenbosch.

The other key variables are education infrastructure, availability of learning and teaching materials, language and socio-economic factors. It would be advisable for the DA to famil-iarise itself with some of these research findings before making such hollow comments; if it was to do that instead of obsessing about SADTU, perhaps it might just assist us to find sus-tainable solutions to some of our most pressing challenges.

What the DA is doing in parliament has nothing to do with the debate but is canvassing for votes. To the DA every issue is about winning the elections and using the people of our country as pawns in this regard. The apartheid created DA has peddled lies through its sms and telephones campaigns saying it is dealing with inequality and has improved the educa-tion quality in poor schools by 75%. This is a pathological lie because the teachers in those working class schools are members of SADTU. These poor teachers, with inadequate re-sources, don't know what a weekend, holiday or family time is as they sacrifice their pre-cious time to teach because they love their learners and their country.

Maimane has never been in those overcrowded classrooms to teach the children to obtain quality passes but it is SADTU members who toil those classrooms - not for politicking but to build the nation. The teachers have no time to grandstand but to work and empower the learners. The members of SADTU are committed to improve the quality of teaching and learning and that is why SADTU will always fight for better conditions so that teachers can do their work better to improve learner achievement.

We call upon our teachers to make our communities and learners aware of the DA's empty rhetoric. Our teachers must mobilize and organize more than we did during the struggle for liberation to fight the DA in every corner and destroy its apartheid fabric once and for all. A well resourced apartheid system was defeated by the knowledge we gave to the students and we must do it again this time to defeat the DA ideology. Teachers must teach without fear because unlike the parliamentarians who are afraid to tell the country that the DA has delivered nothing to our people, SADTU will. The parliamentarians are allowing the DA to lie for cheap political point scoring about education instead of telling the people that it is the ANC policies of no-fee schooling and school nutrition that have brought improvements in education. It is ANC policies that have brought parity between white teachers and black teachers which the DA would want to reverse in serving the elite by selling education in the stock market.

We call upon the all the progressive Education Alliance formations to fight the DA's cam-paign to privatise education with everything they have. We will not allow the DA to reduce education to a commodity.

SADTU Secretariat

Contact:

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157