For teachers, the end of the third term is an indication that the year is almost done. It also brings to teachers the celebration of World Teachers’ Day (WTD) on 5 October 2015. As a sometimes unappreciated profession it is important that we highlight this day and month, since this year we in South Africa will celebrate teachers during the entire month of October.
The celebrations take place against the backdrop of the Annual National Assessments (ANA) stand-off. This stand-off sees NAPTOSA pitted against the senseless insistence of the Minister that the ANA, discredited and abused as it is, should still be written.
“Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies” is the international World Teachers' Day slogan for 2015. It is recognized that teachers are not only a means to implementing education goals; they are the key to sustainability and national capacity in achieving learning and creating societies based on knowledge, values and ethics.
The chosen theme for WTD in South Africa is “Teachers: Heartbeat of the Nation”. Most will agree on how apt such a theme is, but also how hollow it rings when one looks at the conditions in which most teachers work and the constant badgering of NAPTOSA members at the hands of others. Lamentations aside, it is important to celebrate the profession, its achievements in South Africa, its struggles and challenges and to resolve to keep working at improving our lot and by extension, the lot of learners.
NAPTOSA, in celebrating both themes, takes from it a renewed commitment to tackle the growing concern of the health and in particular, the mental health of teachers and in so doing to advocate for greater and better organised counselling and psycho-social services for our members. We want school communities mobilised to better care for and show greater respect for teachers and education.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE), National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), the South African Council for Teachers (SACE), Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), Unions, and Social Partners (Private Sector) have collaborated in planning events to celebrate 2015 World Teachers’ Day. On 31 August 2015 the Minister of Basic Education launched the “Teacher Appreciation and Support Programme” (TASP). This sees a change from celebrating an event on one day, but rather a holistic, year-long programme that includes areas that affect teachers as people and professionals.
The recognition of WTD places on NAPTOSA a profound responsibility, one that demands that we acknowledge the struggles faced by teachers daily, one that forces us to re-evaluate our contribution to the profession, one that demands that we be critical thinkers and not compliant followers. It is this compliant culture that Minister Motshega is depending on. Ironically, it is the same compliant culture that the former regime depended on to sustain apartheid.
This is a clarion call to NAPTOSA members to support their union in the fight for greater rights, more accountability, greater protection and an end to assessment abuse.
I want to wish all members a restful break, a wonderful World Teachers’ Day and an inspirational Teacher Appreciation Month. It is hoped that this becomes a period of reinvigoration and celebration and a reminder of why you chose this noblest of professions as your own.
NAPTOSA salutes you the Teacher! You are indeed ……… the Heartbeat of the Nation.
NAPTOSA recently welcomed the joint decision taken by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Unions on 10 September 2015 to postpone the 2015 ANA to 2016. The decision was taken following lengthy deliberations between the DBE and unions and it was agreed that a remodelling of the ANA by a joint task team that will comprise of union principals and senior DBE officials will take place before the end of the year.
It was thus with shock and disappointment that NAPTOSA learnt of the announcement by the Minister to proceed with the writing of the ANAs from 1 to 4 December 2015. This announcement was made by the Minister at a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday, 18 September 2015, following the Committee of Education Ministers’ (CEM) meeting. No consultation had taken place prior to the latest announcement. This comes on the eve of a high level meeting between the Ministry, Senior DBE officials and union principals, scheduled for Sunday, 20 September 2015. The Minister is reneging on an agreement reached with the DBE which is disconcerting and not considered to be in the spirit of cooperation.
NAPTOSA is not supportive of the ANAs being written on the said dates in December 2015 for a number of reasons, including:
- The task team has been given three months to remodel the National Assessments. It would mean that the task team’s efforts will have no bearing on the tests to be written in December.
- Schools have announced exam timetables which may not align with ANA test dates.
- The workload on teachers will be unreasonable as they have to mark school exams and complete the end of year administration involved in issuing reports on 9 December 2015.
- It is likely that several Grade nine English and Mathematics teachers will be away from school marking National Senior Certificate examinations during that time.
- The results are not likely to be valid if learners, especially Grade three learners, are exhausted from writing school exams and participation in other year-end activities.
- The ANAs which were due to be written in September 2015 have been compromised. There is anecdotal evidence of some schools that had not heard of the postponement and consequently opened the boxes of tests.
The NAPTOSA leadership will be interacting with the Ministry and DBE on this latest development on Sunday, 20 September 2015. This will be followed by a joint media briefing by unions on Monday, 21 September 2015 where the unions’ position will be presented.
TEACHER UNIONS UNITE ON THE 2015 ANNUAL NATIONAL ASSESSMENTS (ANA)
South Africa’s major education unions SADTU, NAPTOSA and SAOU welcomes the joint decision to postpone the 2015 ANA until 2016. The decision was taken following lengthy deliberations between the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and unions in the Education Sector on 8 and 10 September 2015 in Cape Town and Durban respectively, following a call from SADTU to its members not to administer ANA until the DBE comes to the table and deal with matters of education in a responsible manner.
The postponement will allow for the remodeling of the ANA by a joint task team that will comprise of Union Principals and Senior DBE officials. It was also agreed that the remodeling will take place before the end of 2015.
Furthermore, the Unions welcomes the commitment by the Director-General (DG) of the DBE to improve relations between the Department and Unions as well as making more resources available for teacher development. The DG also committed to address the outstanding issues in the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) as a matter of urgency.
Educators are reminded that the Unions supported the initial intention of the ANA as a systemic evaluation tool, but opposed the manner in which the ANA evolved into a high-stakes annual assessment system. The Unions called for annual assessment to be substituted by a three year cycle. The Unions are also not in favour of the extension of the ANA to include other grades in addition to the initial focus grades namely, Grades 3, 6 and 9.
We are pleased that the DBE finally adhered to Unions’ requests regarding the challenges presented by the ANA and is committed to working on remodeling the assessment system for future implementation.
END OF STATEMENT
For further information contact:
Basil Manuel - NAPTOSA President 079 508 6228
Mugwena Maluleke– SADTU General Secretary 082 783 2968
Chris Klopper – SAOU Executive Director 083 708 7733
Statement released by the NAPTOSA Executive Director, Mr Henry Hendricks, on 11 September 2015
NAPTOSA welcomes the joint decision to postpone the 2015 ANA until 2016. The decision was taken following lengthy deliberations between the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and unions in the Education Sector on 8 and 10 September 2015 in Cape Town and Durban respectively. The postponement will allow for the remodelling of the ANA by a joint task team that will comprise of Union Principals and Senior DBE officials. It was also agreed that the remodelling will take place before the end of 2015.
NAPTOSA furthermore welcomes the commitment by the Director-General (DG) of the DBE to improve relations between the Department and Unions as well as making more resources available for teacher development. The DG also committed to address the outstanding issues in the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) as a matter of urgency.
Members are reminded that NAPTOSA supported the initial intention of the ANA as a systemic evaluation tool, but opposed the manner in which the ANA evolved into a high-stakes annual assessment system. NAPTOSA is also not in favour of the extension of the ANA to include other grades in addition to the initial focus grades namely, Grades 3, 6 and 9.
NAPTOSA is pleased that the DBE finally adhered to Unions’ requests regarding the challenges presented by the ANA and is committed to working on remodelling the assessment system for future implementation.
A joint media briefing regarding the postponement of the 2015 ANA and the remodelling of the system will be held by the DG and Union Principals at OR Tambo International Airport on 11 September 2015 at 12:00.
Statement released by the NAPTOSA Executive Director, Mr Henry Hendricks, on 3 September 2015
The ANA was conceptualised following poor learner performance in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMMS), as well as the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) studies. NAPTOSA, at the time, embraced the intention of a “home-grown” diagnostic testing system for selected grades. However, the ANA is no longer a diagnostic systemic evaluation tool, but has evolved into a content-based test with results being used to “label and punish” schools and districts in relation to performance. This labelling has changed the way in which schools and teachers perceive the ANA.
In 2014 we saw schools “teaching to the ANA” to the detriment of the curriculum. Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) instructed that days/weeks be dedicated to the preparation for the ANA, as well as schools having “pre- ANA tests” in some provinces. This abhorrent practice continues as a result of the pressure to perform at any cost. NAPTOSA denounces such practices and also rejects the proliferation and extension of the ANA to all grades as opposed to the initial focus grades, namely, grades 3, 6 and 9.
NAPTOSA is concerned that sufficient time is not allocated for schools to consolidate and implement the learning needs as identified.
NAPTOSA has consistently drawn its concerns about the ANA to the attention of both the Minister and the Department of Basic Education, but to no avail. These concerns include issues of changed focus from diagnostic to summative evaluation; lack of consolidation; the undesirability of a high stakes testing regime; and the absence of meaningful engagement. Other pertinent issues taken up with the Minister include the disruption of the academic year, additional educator workload, unfair demands on special schools, and change in focus and purpose. The timing of the ANA is also cause for concern.