NEWS & ANALYSIS

KZN schools overcame challenges - SADTU

Union says two of the underperforming schools are located in deep rural areas and as represent painful realities of the past

SADTU KZN media statement on the release of matric results in 2017

11 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 same 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.  Majority of parents have realized the need to play a more meaningful role in the education of their kids 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 mediocre in all our schools in the Province. 

The Province has pleasingly overcome some challenges that had previously plagued the system and delivered on the following:

- Timeous delivery of textbooks and stationery

- Finalization of curriculum delivery in all our schools in time.

- Planning for revision time for all our learners enhanced through Boot Camps

- Rapid exposure of educators to capacity building programmes like Just-In-Time workshops.

- Development and distribution of advanced revision and assessment materials to all schools

- Direct intervention  and academic support to distressed Districts 

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

Of greatest concern as well 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 poverty through 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 which obviously 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 even decry valuable time they are under obligation to spend in Principals’ meeting and internal administrative work instead of 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. This needs not to be surrounded by a host of technicalities and complex policy imperatives primarily formulated with urban schools in mind. 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 which can be realized if inhibiters of success are eliminated and that the department addresses many of its short comings some of which are:

1. Notable failure by the department to prioritize timeous provision of educators in all schools as the year begins and ensuring immediate payments of their salaries where new educators have been appointed.

2. Lack of audit of delivery of Learner Teacher Support Materials (LTSM) particularly for Section 21 institutions where service providers delay delivery.

3. Inadequate planning for educator provisioning in critical subjects.

4. Lack of a coherent strategy for retention of skills particularly in rural areas.

5. Delay and nonpayment of rural incentives and all that which aid teacher retention and skills within the department.

6. Lack of development of and adequate funding of a programme to assist progressed learners.

7. Overloaded classes as a result of impractical post provisioning model that burdens educators.

8. Lack of internet connectivity for many of our schools

9. Slow pace in infrastructure provisioning including libraries and proper sanitation.

10. Disregard of challenges associated with merging of non viable schools like abrupt  discontinuation learner transport

The above inevitably perpetuates underdevelopment and inequalities within the system thus deepening challenges institutions face yearly.  We need to holistically address immediate challenges which 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 is 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 results of this unprofessional attitude coupled with glaring incapacity has once again been evidenced in the ridiculous 0.49% improvement in 2016 results against remarkable advances made by all other Districts.  SADTU can no longer fold arms despite unfair publicity and attacks she attracts when vociferously raising 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. It is against these startling revelations that SADTU fully supports the campaign by the ANCLY of Greater Kwa-Dukuza Region calling for the Department to act decisively against gross malpractices in this District.

We call on the HOD to conduct an investigation on:

(a) How was funding deployed to Ilembe District for results improvement programmes utilized?

(b) How was the “Retreat” strategic programme designed for underperforming Districts blocked in Ilembe District when it has clearly lifted up Districts like Umzinyathi.

(c) The extent to which interference through trumped up investigations against certain schools have contributed towards educator low morale and underperformance in Ilembe schools.

(d) Resuscitate and ensure implementation the agreement reached by the office of the HOD in KZN and SADTU under the guidance of the office of Minister of Basic Education.

(e) Secure a caretaker for the District to ensure uninterrupted work for the District until investigation is finalized.

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.

Conclusion

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 education fraternity a peaceful and successful 2017 academic year.

Issued by Nomarashiya Caluza, Provincial Secretary, SADTU KZN, 11 January 2017