EI affiliate, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU), has welcomed the new Government’s decision to reorganise the education sector by creating two distinct ministries - the Ministry of Basic Education and the Ministry of Higher Education and Training.
In a statement issued on May 11, SADTU states, “Splitting the education portfolio makes good sense. The former department was just too big – one department accounting for 40% of all public service employees. “ SADTU believes that “The separate ministries will allow for greater focus on the very real challenges faced in both sectors”.
South African children complete on average 13 years of schooling and ninety percent of primary school-age children are in school but there is much to do to guarantee free quality public education for all. Measures like non-fee paying schools in the most poverty stricken areas should be the norm nationwide, and incentive schemes such as the National Schools Nutrition Programme, feeding 1.6-million schoolchildren every day, need to be cost-effective.
Calling the challenges to basic education “daunting”, SADTU emphasised the need to increase investment in Early Childhood Development to ensure that children get a good start, particularly in basic literacy and numeracy.
SADTU underscored investment in teachers as crucial to a good education system, “The need to develop a national strategy and plan for teacher training, development and support remains critical. We take the view that well-motivated, well trained teachers are key to improving the quality of education”.
Since 2008, SADTU under the EI EFAIDS Programme has implemented their Teacher Well-Being Project in collaboration with TIP, a Research Institute in the University of the Western Cape, and the Centre for Education Policy Development. The programme works to ensure teachers have the skills and facilities to contribute fully to achieving quality Education for All.
SADTU restated its commitment to “working with the education ministers to improve teaching and learning in the classroom and to develop an education system which truly meets the economic and social needs of all our people”.