10 January 2017
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) in KZN has noted the release of improved 2016 matric results and joins the entire education fraternity to welcome them with excitement. This is a reflection of collective efforts of all stakeholders in education. We send accolades and praises to our members and educators in general for their unwavering commitment to work mainly under the most difficult and trying conditions. We salute learners who accepted the challenge and availed themselves for all extra classes organized for them in a bid to broaden access to tuition classes. The majority of parents have realized the need to play a more meaningful role in the education of their children and the value thereof is manifestly reflected in these improved results. The positive response by the Department in heeding our call for rapid teacher development programmes coupled with development and provision of support materials, filling of critical posts have patently yielded enviable results. It is a culmination of the work of all progressive forces, including the Education Alliance and PYA, determined to end mediocrity in all our schools in the Province.
The Province has pleasingly overcome some challenges that previously plagued the system and delivered on the following:
We are the leading province bold enough to confront all forms of societal ills that besiege education and delivery thereof. While other provinces like the Western Cape, have elected to short-circuit their successes and improved results this in the main has robbed African kids in particular opportunities for access in education. Despite unacceptable dropout rates an increase in the number of learners who registered and sat for examinations is notable and is a good step towards the right direction for KZN province. We are pleased with improvements in quintile 1-3 schools results reflecting positive returns on investments made by all with educators leading the way.
The unnoticed systemic challenges
Our greatest concerns are the schools that disgracefully linger in the 0% rate thereby locking learners to permanent abyss of despair. This must be regarded as a calamity and betrayal of societies that must be freed from the bondages of povertythrough education. The department must thoroughly investigate the underlying causes of this problem as we are convinced that it is more systemic than individually based. It cannot be correct that the Department of education is ambushed by the dismal results together with public to this end monitoring and evaluation should be continuous so that corrective measures are taken in time to avert this tragedy in future.
Two of these underperforming schools are located in deep rural areas where it is a nightmare to travel to. As expected they represent the painful realities of the past. They have 61 and 89 learners respectively with four educators each. Four educators have to teach from grade 8 to grade 12. At a given point some learners remain without an educator when the educators are all engaged in other classes. This paints a miserable picture of institutions that can hardly have conducive environment for teaching and learning.
This is the tale of a two-tier education system in a supposedly unitary State and the Department of Education needs to radically develop tailor made responses that shall transcend narrow policy directives to assist these schools.These institutions can hardly afford to deliver quality education at all levels with inadequate provisioning of educators let alone institutional support they deserve. Principals of these schools have to content with splitting their valuable time between Principals’ meeting, internal administrative work and being in class teaching.The Department of Education must establish a special dispensation for funding and resource provisioning for these institutions including closer monitoring of their academic activities. Educators alone remain submerged in these challenges as departmental officials helplessly encourage them to soldier on in a ruthless situation of despair.
There is great room of improvement that can be realized if inhibiters of success are eliminated and that the department addresses many of its shortcomings some of which are:
The above inevitably perpetuates underdevelopment and inequalities within the system thus deepening challenges institutions face yearly. We need to holistically address immediate challenges that are perfectly within our reach to overcome which include but not limited to ensuring an efficient and effective administration of education and schools in particular.
Ilembe District remains our concern
SADTU sharply raised the challenges confronted by all stakeholders in education in Ilembe District as early as 2013 and we continued to call for intervention from the provincial department to address what had notoriously stymied progress in this District. The matter was elevated to the office of the Minister of Basic Education after it became devastatingly obvious that the District Director was not at all prepared to work with all stakeholders to address causes of poor performance.All endevours by the former MEC, Ms Peggy Nkonyeni and the Minister of Basic Education to address the challenges were spectacularly thwarted not by impossibilities but by sheer disdain and arrogance of the Director who stubbornly undermined all collective efforts to ensure delivery of education in this deeply rural area of our province.The resultof this unprofessional attitude, coupled with glaring incapacity, has been evidenced by the ridiculous 0.49% improvement in 2016 results against remarkable advance by all other Districts.SADTU can no longer fold arms despite unfair publicity and attacks she attracts when vociferously raise issues of critical importance.The future of learners in this District remains bleak in the hands of uncaring officials and as such SADTU shall not rest as long as there is some clear disincentive to act with speed by the HOD in these matters.
We call on the HOD to conduct an investigation on:
Umlazi District plummets
Umlazi District has been a beacon of hope and academic excellence for our Province, capable of leading the way in matric results for a long period of time. The decline in the results of this District has reasonably astonished us all and failure to diagnose the problem and act swiftly to arrest further decline can cost the Province dearly. We cannot safely blame it all on the disruptions of school activities that occasioned the pre and post local government election period without making a proper analysis and investigation on the deep seated causes thereof.
SADTU members in KZN remain resolute in their principal objective to realise a fully transformed quality public education system that will translate into an equal society.The current two-tier system remains tilted in favour of the rich who have unfettered access to all resources.We wish all teachers, learners and broader stakeholders within the education fraternity a peaceful and successful 2017 academic year.