NAPTOSA's position on the Annual National Assessment (ANA) as presented by Dr Anthea Cereseto (NAPTOSA Deputy President).
MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION’S WALKING AWAY FROM ANA MEDIATION CAUSES TURMOIL IN EDUCATION
Joint Media Statement
Organised labour in the Basic Education sector, regrets the unilateral withdrawal from mediation by the Minister of Basic Education despite an agreement on the Annual National Assessment(ANA) being reached on Thursday, 19 November 2015. This is the second withdrawal on the agreement reached with the unions on the issue by the Minister that has put education in turmoil.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE), in their letter to the mediator, signed by the Director General, indicates that the mediation process failed on account of; “The last insertion of suggested wording to the settlement agreement that sought to make the writing of the ANA 2015 voluntary, defeated all attempts to find each other.” What this indicates is that the mediation process failed on the basis of the word “voluntarily”. We must clarify that this clause was included in the initial draft settlement that they themselves had agreed to (see attached draft agreement).
NAPTOSA learnt with surprise and shock that the Minister of Basic Education has decided to withdraw from the mediation process which was seeking to find a solution to the DBE intention to force learners at schools to write the ANAs at the beginning of December this year. The mediation process was one which all education sector unions were happy to participate in, and we assumed that the DBE was as well.
Therefore after a meaningful process since 2 November and with an agreement insight it was extremely disappointing to learn that the Minister decided to declare a deadlock. In fact an agreement had been virtually hammered out and was due to be signed on Friday 20 November 2015. There may have been a phrase or two that required refinement, but the essence of an agreement was in place. No meeting to sign took place after the DBE postponed, and on Monday we learnt with shock from the mediator that the Minister had withdrawn by declaring a deadlock. We can only conclude that the DBE were participating in bad faith. We are aware that the Minister hastily convened a meeting with Governing Body associations, principal associations and student formations in an attempt to elicit support, but failed to contact any of the Unions involved (NAPTOSA, SADTU, SAOU, NATU or PEU).
The DBE has issued a Circular (No 4 of 2015) to Provinces, District Directors and School Principals instructing, inter alia, that
- The writing of the ANA 2015 will take place from 26 November to 4 December 2015, at a time and place that is convenient to the school. The school must determine the timetable for the writing of these tests.
- The Provincial Education Departments must issue a provincial circular to schools confirming the date on which the tests will be available for collection.
- The marking will be done by teachers at school and should be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2016.
- During the first quarter of 2016 ANA scripts will be collected from a sample of schools for external moderation.
ANA 2015 Circular( No 4 of 2015)
NAPTOSA and all other Unions in the Basic Education sector have once again stressed that the ANAs are NOT fit for purpose. Indeed the DBE has acknowledged this. Why then are they insisting on a deeply flawed process? No learner will be disadvantaged in any way by not writing these tests whose validity and reliability has been criticised by education experts and academics. We remain convinced that the only way forward is to relook at the tests and engage in a remodelling process. Union will meet this morning (25 November 2015) to discuss these developments.
NAPTOSA also questions the sudden haste with which the DBE is attempting to have learners write these tests. In addition to the issues of validity and reliability we must question whether the papers have not been compromised, whether the process has any integrity, and what of the large number of learners who have finished for the year and are no longer at school.
NAPTOSA advises members:
- We remain committed to our stance that these tests should not be written for the reasons we have stated repeatedly. We urge members not to administer these discredited evaluations.
- NAPTOSA however recognises that there are many different situations in which schools, principals and teachers may find themselves, and appreciates that in some instances principals of schools and teachers may feel compelled to collect the question papers and even administer the tests. This is a decision that members must make taking their circumstances into account. However no member should feel compelled to perform the duties of another teacher who has decided not to administer the ANA.
- If members are intimidated in any way from which ever source we urge you to contact your provincial office.
Dear NAPTOSA member
I wish to thank you for your continued loyal support for your Union and your constant efforts at promoting our Union and its policies.
I am taking this opportunity to write to you to put into context the NAPTOSA position and stance with regard to the Annual National Assessments (ANA).
Much has been said and it is now common cause that NAPTOSA, together with all the other unions, is at odds with the Minister in the Department of Basic Education (DBE) about the writing of the ANA in 2015. I wish to stress that NAPTOSA is supportive of a systemic evaluation system but believes that ANA, in its present form, does not suit this purpose.
The decision of the National Executive Committee to reject the writing of the ANA is informed by resolutions adopted by our various provincial structures and our National Council and National Congress over the past three years. This rejection and call for improvement and remodelling has been conveyed to the DBE and Minister numerous times without receiving any positive response. In addition, various academics like Dr Nic Spaull have, since 2012, expressed the same misgivings about the ANA.
Amongst many issues highlighted to the Minister the following stand out:
- ANA is no longer serving the purpose for which it was intended.
- NAPTOSA contends, and interestingly the DBE agrees in its diagnostic report, that the ANA is not a reliable or valid diagnostic tool since ANA results cannot be compared across grades and time. This is because the degree of difficulty of tests vary from year to year and across grades making comparisons difficult, inaccurate, misleading and unreliable.
- Schools are faced with enormous pressure to deliver ‘good’ results which has created an industry of ANA days, ANA monthly tests, district tests,provincial pre-ANA tests, etc. with the inevitable accompanied neglect of the curriculum, the long term impact of which is too ghastly to contemplate.
- Schools, teachers and principals are now being judged against the performance of their schools in the ANA. This has resulted in increased pressure, cheating and even forcing weaker learners to not attend school when the ANA is written.
Enough is enough! None of this is educationally sound or benefits the child, the teacher or the System for that matter. As NAPTOSA we refuse to subject our children, our teachers, our principals and schools to this mockery any longer. The fact that the DBE has ignored our inputs and concerns for the past three years does not make us irresponsible. This, NAPTOSA members, is the time to stand together with other unions and reject the continued imposition of a useless, discredited, and purposeless testing system. We must stand together and reject this pressure and the inevitable threats of discipline that will follow. NAPTOSA will stand against any attempt to intimidate our teachers, principals and governing bodies. This is also not the time for petty one-upmanship, small-mindedness and point scoring between unions. As teacher unions we are united in our rejection of the ANA.
We thus call on you to forward suggestions for improving and remodelling the ANA to us.
NAPTOSA will be participating in the mediation process between the DBE and unions which is scheduled to take place on 2 to 6 November 2015. We will keep you updated on developments as they unfold.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment.
Mr. Basil Manuel, President of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), extends well-wishes to the “Class of 2015” on the commencement of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination.
The 2015 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations began on Monday 19 October, as some candidates sat for Computer Applications Technology (CAT). The majority of the Full Time and Part Time candidates will officially begin their examinations on Monday, 26 October 2015.
Mr Manuel said that the students must endeavor to produce good results as the outcome of this examination will determine their future paths. It is hoped that the learners have committed over these past months to prepare well for the examination, said Mr Manuel. To those learners who are experiencing difficulty during this period NAPTOSA advises that they must try to give of their best or seek assistance from the many organisations offering support if they feel overwhelmed.
NAPTOSA hopes the focused intervention by the Department of Basic Education through initiatives such as “winter and spring schools” and the provision of “The Mind the GAP series and Exemplars” would come to fruition through the learners performance, said Mr Manuel. It is also imperative that the contributions of the teachers over the years and especially those in Grade 12 be acknowledged, he added.
NAPTOSA would be amiss if it did not also acknowledge all the Examination Directorates in the national and provincial departments (as well as the Umalusi officials) who will manage the 2015 National Senior Certificate examination, said Mr Manuel. Their unrelenting contribution toward the NSC examination is acknowledged and appreciated by NAPTOSA, he added. Provincial Departments, in particular, need to be commended for the exemplary preparations for the examination, said Mr. Manuel.
In conclusion NAPTOSA wishes to encourage all learners and officials at all levels and processes of the examination to act with integrity and not compromise the credibility of the NSC examination.
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.