“The aim would be to establish all schools in SA as centres of excellence, or at the very least demand that schools must draft a realistic plan of action to improve the quality of education within the shortest possible time,” the unions said in a joint statement on Monday.
The National Association of Professional Teachers of SA (Naptosa), the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) and the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) represent 312 000 teachers.
They were banding together out of a belief that further delays in improving the state of the country’s education could not be afforded.
“Only a true all encompassing partnership between dedicated and committed role players will ensure success in education,” they said in their statement.
The less than satisfactory matric results underlined the necessity for urgent intervention. “If it is noted that approximately 1,4m learners entered the system in grade one, the pass figure of 334 718 learners means that only approximately 24% were able to complete the [national senior certificate] in the minimum of 12 years.
“The through flow rate of approximately 24% is symptomatic of an ineffective education system,” the unions said.
“A quality education system is non-negotiable and therefore quality at all levels must be attained to ensure that SA can take its rightful place in the world.”
Naptosa, Sadtu and the SAOU acknowledged there were no quick fixes and said the shortest possible period for dramatically improved results was in all probability five to six years.
The unions committed themselves to, among other things, addressing teacher absenteeism; implementing timetables before the start of the school year; and acting on unprofessional conduct.
“No education system can show meaningful progress unless the bureaucracy provides the required support to educators and schools,” they said.
They called on the education departments nationally and provincially to commit to, among other things, providing a curriculum, managerial infrastructure and competent education mentors; develop and present in-service training courses; and develop remedial steps to support underperforming schools.
They also called on school governing bodies to attend training courses, on parents to ensure pupils attended school, and on pupils to work studiously and continuously and abide by school rules.
The unions said they would set up support telephone lines at their national offices for complaints or assistance, and would arrange formal meetings to discuss the principles underlying the social contract, build consensus and ensure unanimous commitment.
They would evaluate the progress made by the end of the first term, and if necessary, implement remedial steps. — Sapa
- Image credit: Frerieke