Mr Star Ntantala, President of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), commenting on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Jacob Zuma to Parliament on 9 February 2017, lamented the irresponsible behaviour of some national leaders in the House, as it does not instil confidence in the public at large. He added that the Union welcomed several aspects of the Address, but expressed disappointment that critical issues were not highlighted.
NAPTOSA welcomes the State President’s reflection on the importance of education especially that it remains an apex priority for Government. “Whilst NAPTOSA acknowledges the eradication of unsuitable school buildings and the construction of 895 schools through the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), this is still insufficient as vast inequities still exist across the Country”, said Mr Ntantala. He added that too many learners are still trapped in unsuitable schools throughout the Country. Freedom and democracy have had little impact on their life chances and quality of education. NAPTOSA is perturbed that to date, more than 4000 learners have not been placed in schools in Gauteng. In addition, the shortage of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) in Limpopo and Eastern Cape schools have negatively impacted teaching and learning in these provinces. “NAPTOSA noted that whilst some communities have modern classrooms, they are devoid of furniture and equipment which has resulted in learners sitting on the floor”, said Mr Ntantala.
Mr Ntantala commended Government’s initiative to train 15 000 artisans, however, the concerns of students and lecturers at TVET Colleges have fallen on deaf ears, which has forced many Colleges to suspend lectures at the beginning of this academic year. NAPTOSA calls on Business to commit to providing ‘on the job training’ for the unemployed youth, he added.
Government’s commitment to raising the number of learner participation in Mathematics and Science is welcomed, however, NAPTOSA is concerned about the inconsistencies between the analysis of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results and The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) reports presented at the DBE Lekgotla on 23-25 January 2017. NAPTOSA is perplexed that the TIMMS report shows an improvement in learner performance in these subjects while the NSC results continue to reflect poor performance. NAPTOSA urges the Department to address problems in the Foundation Phase, namely, mother-tongue tuition, class sizes, particularly in Quintile 1 to 3 schools, as well as the need for attention to complaints of an overloaded curriculum. “The department’s interventions to increase the number of NSC passes would be more effective if these issues were addressed”, said Mr Ntantala.
NAPTOSA welcomes government’s poverty alleviation programmes that are currently running in the form of the social grants that benefits 17 million people, which includes the food programmes at schools, said Mr Ntantala.
NAPTOSA believes that there is no dignity attempting to learn on an empty stomach. The introduction of the minimum wage of R3500 is encouraging, but NAPTOSA would have liked to see this “minimum” raised, said Mr Ntantala.
As a union that advocates the promotion of socio-economic empowerment of women, NAPTOSA supports the President’s recognition of gender inequalities. “NAPTOSA would, however, like to see more women appointed in managerial positions in education”, said Mr Ntantala.
NAPTOSA noted that although government has provided four million houses since 1994, the marginalised “missing middle civil servants” such as teachers, police and nurses are still unable to own homes despite the implementation of the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS). Furthermore, many teachers have yet to receive back- pay of their housing allowance as per the PSCBC Resolution 7 of 2015, said Mr Ntantala. Many promises are made during the SONA, but are not followed through such as the Presidential Remuneration Review Commission promised by the President in the 2013 SONA, which was expected to positively impact the socio-economic conditions of public servants. Although established, this Commission has failed to produce anything in four years.
NAPTOSA welcomes Government’s initiatives for students funding, however, this is insufficient as recent protests at higher education institutions indicate. NAPTOSA calls for the review of the funding model for universities and urges Government not to forget schools that are also chronically underfunded.
In conclusion, Mr Ntantala stated that NAPTOSA supported the fight against drugs and crime by visible policing and eagerly awaits the extension of these security measures to schools because we cannot afford to lose any more of our children to these scourges. NAPTOSA is of the view that “radical transformation” is needed in the education sector to address social ills and inequalities, said Mr Ntantala.
End of Statement
President of NAPTOSA: Mr Nkosiphendule “Star” Ntantala – 072 198 0599
Executive Director of NAPTOSA: Mr Basil Manuel - 079 508 6228