Durban - Teacher unions will not stand in the way of teachers marking matric examinations but are adamant that they will not write competency tests and are demanding higher pay for their services.
The stalemate between the unions and the KZN Department of Education over the contentious competency testing looked no closer to being resolved on Wednesday.
“We will not write. We will mark,” said the provincial secretary of the 60 000-strong SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, Mbuyiseni Mathonsi.
The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said yesterday it would explain to its more than 40 000 KZN members why it was inappropriate for them to undergo such an assessment.
“There is no law or policy that regulates such tests as they change the conditions of employment without the required consultation,” said Allen Thompson, Natu’s deputy president.
“The department better have a back-up plan for more markers, because teachers belonging to this union will boycott the tests,” he vowed.
“If there are no negotiations, there must be a Parliament decision backed up by a relevant piece of legislation.”
Thompson slammed the department for both the test and its timing. It is scheduled to be written on December 1.
“If we take the worse case scenario and all those assessed fail dismally on December 1, what is likely to happen the next day when marking is supposed to begin?”
Thompson said that while they were frustrated with the department, they would not abandon their responsibilities as markers and teachers.
“These pupils have worked for 12 years to get to this point and we as teachers have helped to bring them here. We will be as responsible as possible, to ensure that the students will not be distracted and that we do not lose the sympathy of the public.”
Simphiwe Mpungose, the general secretary of the Educators Union of SA, which has 10 000 members in KZN, said they too were against the test.
“In principle we are in favour of checking the quality of markers, but we cannot haphazardly implement it,” he said. “This is going to create a problem because if they fail, marking and the release of results could be held back. If most teachers fail, who will be marking?”
The only union supporting the test is the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa)
, which has about 7 000 KZN members.
The organisation’s provincial CEO, Anthony Pierce, said they were not opposing the test and Naptosa members would present themselves to be tested.
However, he said it should have been written earlier in the year.
KZN education superintendent-general, Nkosinathi Sishi, said yesterday provincial education departments only implemented national instructions, and the test would be written in KZN.
“If they have problems, they need to take them up to the national department,” he said. “This pilot project is a national agreement that the tests will start this year.
“The test is a tool to see the strength and weaknesses of a teacher.”
The competency tests are part of a national pilot project by the Department of Basic Education, aimed at rooting out incompetent markers.
Set by the national department, the test, gazetted for comment two months ago by Education Minister Angie Motshekga, was also in response to previous marking inconsistencies picked up by the department and the examination quality assurance body, Umalusi.
Unions also want to know why a proposed 100 percent increase for matric markers had been put on hold.
Last year, an ordinary marker earned about R131 an hour, working 10 to 12 hours a day for about 10 days.
The rates for this year were still being negotiated, but were unlikely to be less than last year’s, said Sishi. - Daily News