Equal Education (EE) is gravely concerned that the public release of the report of the ministerial task teak (MTT) into the jobs-for-cash scandal has again been delayed.
EE has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) request to the Department of Basic Education to obtain the MTT’s final report. EE’s fear is that the version of the report that will be released to the public on May 6 will be a sanitised one, and that the delay in releasing the report of the MTT is an effort to keep a lid on “smallanyana skeletons”.
On 4 May 2014, we released a press statement welcoming news of an inquiry into allegations that posts for principals and teachers were being sold, and we have since looked forward to the release of the investigation findings.
The consequences of the crooked cadre deployment perpetrated by members of teachers’ unions and education officials goes beyond appointing individuals without the requisite expertise to key posts. This corruption is demoralising for teachers who are competent and committed to the work. This gatekeeping drives capable young teachers from public school classrooms.
The killing, and threats on the lives of dedicated school managers and teachers is devastating. These unspeakable acts are not perpetrated against the staff of affluent schools, but sees schools which serve impoverished black children under siege.
These attacks on the values of professionalism must be arrested.
While we want to caution the Basic Education Department against bashing teachers’ unions, we urge the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) to see the public release of the jobs-for-cash report as an opportunity to ask serious questions of itself, as a union that represents those who teach the children of the poor and the working class. This process may allow Sadtu to rid itself of the criminal elements within its ranks, masquerading as progressive trade unionists.
The duty of the MTT, headed by Professor John Volmink, was to probe and report to Minister Motshekga on allegations of the irregular appointment of teachers, and the role therein of members of teachers’ unions and officials of provincial education departments. The task team began its work at the end of September 2014.
The media (City Press) reports which prompted the establishment of the MTT, and the interim report of the MTT, are not the only documented evidence that something is seriously amiss in the basic education sector’s human resources management chain.
Aside from various pieces of university-based research, the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (Needu) report which was completed in 2013 (but not formally released by Minister Motshekga), revealed rampant cronyism, union meddling and the disregarding of policy in teacher appointments. The basic education sector owes Needu its gratitude for speaking truth to power.
Equal Education expects that the MTT has:
· Identified challenges in the advertising and filling of posts, and the legislative changes that may be required. We also expect that the MTT has advised Minister Motshekga on the implementation of policies related to the appointment and placement of teachers and other members of school staff, and whether the policies required reviewing. EE very strongly believes that valid and reliable information on the needs of schools regarding teachers and their specialisations ought to be obtained as a matter of urgency. As we have previously stated, the availability and distribution of well-trained teachers is crucial.
· Indicated clearly in the final report which instances ought to be referred to the SAPS, which instances would require that disciplinary action be taken against officials of the national or provincial education departments, and which instances ought to be reported to professional bodies such as the South African Council of Educators (SACE).
· Advised Minister Motshekga on how school-level selection panels could be constituted, in order to act with authority and accountability, to eliminate corruption in the recruitment process.
Equal Education demands that:
· The capacity of school governing bodies to identify the best candidates and resist undue influence must be urgently strengthened through rigorous training of parent members, by provincial education departments.
· The deployment of officials to education departments by teachers’ unions (as reward rather than owing to competence and commitment) must immediately cease.
· All officials of the national and provincial education departments must execute their duties diligently and transparently.
· Provincial education departments, and the Eastern Cape Education Department in particular, must act decisively to wrest control of the process of post provisioning from unions.
· District officials must be placed under greater scrutiny to ensure that they execute their duties efficiently and ethically. District offices are pivotal in supporting schools, and ensuring accountability. The national department’s district monitoring unit is a step in the right direction toward improving the districts’ staff capacity, planning, monitoring and evaluation, curriculum oversight, and human resource management.
· We call on Minister Motshekga and Parliament to institute an urgent review of SACE. SACE in its current form has contributed to the undermining of the teaching profession, operating akin to a (dysfunctional) database.
· Finally, Minister Motshekga and the provincial heads of departments must take the lead in pressing criminal charges. This must not be left to the individual complainants and whistleblowers. The national department must protect the brave men and women who have stood up against the undermining of the profession.
Until the national and provincial education departments are able to regain control of the managing and administering of education, post-apartheid education reform will fail to improve education in many historically disadvantaged schools.
For further information contact:
Tshepo Motsepe (EE General Secretary) – 071 886 5637
Leanne Jansen-Thomas (EE Head of Policy and Training) – 079 494 9411
Nombulelo Nyathela (EE Spokerson) 060 503 4933