BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) are on a collision course‚ with the union vowing at the weekend to continue opposing the introduction of competency tests for markers of matric examination papers as they "will not improve the quality of education”.
In reply to a parliamentary question last week‚ Ms Motshekga gave the strongest indication yet the department could introduce competency tests for matric exam markers‚ even if Sadtu continues to oppose them.
Ms Motshekga said the department would continue to interact with the union so that "the differences can be resolved amicably'”.
'"However‚ if no amicable solution can be reached after the ministry has explored all possible options‚ (I) will utilise (my) discretion and make a decision that is in the best interest of learners.”
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said at the weekend that the union would continue to oppose the competency tests because "they do not assist us”.
"The tests will not improve the quality of education … what we are saying is focus on teacher training and development … the competency tests can then be included during the time of teacher training so that educators are well equipped. You cannot just say teachers should write tests every time before a (matric) exam‚” Mr Maluleke said.
On the possibility of the department pushing through the proposal‚ Mr Maluleke said "there is nothing for us without us”‚ suggesting that the union would strongly challenge such a move.
"This also has to do with the conditions of service and they cannot (introduce these tests) without us‚” Mr Maluleke said.
This leaves little hope that the issue will be resolved "amicably” and with South Africa’s education performance consistently rated poorly in international surveys‚ the absence of the competency tests will be seen as compromising the quality of education. It also raises questions about the sway that unions have over the government‚ especially in the education sector.
Last year‚ the Government Gazette published draft amendments to the National Education Policy Act that seek to ensure examiners are competent in their subject fields.
The quality of the National Senior Certificate has been subject to much scrutiny in recent years‚ with the competency of markers being questioned. Commenting on last year’s matric exams in Parliament earlier this year‚ exam quality assurer Umalusi reported on concerns over the "quality and standard of marking and internal moderation”.
In August‚ Ms Motshekga said the official implementation of a competency test will be scheduled for next year.
Democratic Alliance (DA) basic education spokeswoman Annette Lovemore said last week the party welcomed Ms Motshekga’s stance.
"It is pivotal that this happens sooner rather than later. The DA will closely monitor the situation and hold Minister Motshekga to her undertaking to put South Africa’s learners first. She must not wilt in the face of union opposition and she must implement what is best for South Africa’s learners‚” she said. © BDlive 2013