South African Council of Educators: briefing

Basic Education

22 February 2010
Chairperson: Ms F Chohan (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee heard a briefing from SACE around the mandate and the strategic goals of the Council. The strategic goals focused on the registration of teachers, professional development, the code of ethics and administration. Members’ concerns included the need for teachers to bind themselves to the code of professional ethics and the different roles played by the department, SACE and unions in upholding ethics. Some members were concerned with the registration of under-qualified and foreign teachers with SACE. The annual World Teachers’ Day celebrations were supposed to be held within the school premises involving the whole community, and inspire learners to join the profession. The teacher unions were no longer opposed to the subscription fee increase from R6 to R15.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
Mr Reg Brijraj, the CEO, mentioned that SACE had listened to the questions that had been raised by the Committee during the previous briefing. SACE had decided to cut in half the budget for the World Teachers’ Day to save money. He said that the Council had managed to clarify and uphold the role of SACE on professional ethics. The profile of SACE would be promoted through outreach programmes and provincial offices would be piloted in three provinces.

SACE briefing
Mr Themba Ndlovu, Liaison Officer, SACE, briefly touched on the mandate of SACE and on the following targets for 2010/11. He said that SACE would be updating standards and procedures for registration of all teachers including foreign and trainee teachers working in the country. The second objective was the facilitation of professional teacher development that would be achieved by the implementation of a professional development portfolio. The third one was the development and enforcement of code of a Professional Ethics. He said that SACE would distribute a simplified version of the code. The last one dealt with improving the administrative side of the Council through maximising the use of resources and infrastructure. SACE would be opening three regional offices to bring services closer to the people.

Discussion
Ms N Gina (ANC) asked for clarity on the role of the Department and unions in upholding ethics and how SACE fits in within that paradigm.

Ms Tsidi Dipholo, Chief Operations Officer, SACE, replied that SACE viewed strikes as purely a labour issue rather than viewing strikes as unethical behaviour. Labour issues were dealt with by the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). All cases involving teachers were taken up by SACE. Sometimes they would be investigated by the department and SACE concurrently. She said that sometimes teachers would resign before investigations were complete only to be employed by another school. As a way of solving the problem investigations would continue even when that particular teacher involved had resigned so as to catch the serial perpetrators.

The Chairperson asked whether teachers were required to bind themselves to the code of ethics when they joined SACE or when they joined the profession.  She asked whether there was a register that identified offenders such as paedophiles and how foreign teachers were identified. She suggested the alignment of that register with the one from the Department of Justice.

Mr Ndlovu replied that the registration of foreign teacher was renewable after twelve months, because foreign teachers had previously used SACE registration as a transit to seek work in Canada and the United Kingdom. Offenders were identified in a registers that were distributed to all schools.

The Chairperson wanted to know whether teachers’ registration was categorised according to certain criteria, for example trainee and foreign teachers.

Mr Morris Mapindane, CFO, SACE, replied there was conditional registration for teachers with an undergrad degree and no teachers’ diploma. The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had lots of under-qualified teachers with only grade 12 who could only be registered conditionally.

The Chairperson felt that the under-qualified teachers could only be used as a temporary measure. She said that research should clearly indicate the number of teachers that were required to be trained in the next five years to avoid such situations.

Mr Brijraj explained that the DG for Education in the Eastern Cape said that temporary teachers could not be fired because they played a significant role during the absence of qualified teachers. The only route was to train those teachers even if it took a long time.

The Chairperson said that she was concerned that teacher development was not keeping up with the current developments in curriculum changes. The department had failed to set up certain parameters on what should be delivered in the classroom. She made the example that every teacher that entered the profession had to reach a certain point of development within a specified period.

Mr Ndlovu replied that teachers were expected to attain a specific number of accredited professional development points per annum.

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) suggested that Teachers Day celebrations should be held inside the school premises to inspire school pupils to take up the profession.

Mr Ndlhovu replied that SACE had sent out posters to schools with guidelines on celebrating Teachers Day within their communities.

Ms Gina asked the reason why SACE was selling the teacher professional development files.

Ms Dipholo replied that files were sold to teachers because they attached more value to the contents of the file when they bought them. She said that when teachers were given the files for free they viewed professional development as the role of the Department.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked the body responsible for teacher development between SACE and the Department.

Ms Dipolo replied that the Education and Training Development Practices (EDTP) Seta was primarily responsible for teacher development, but that did not mean that the Department had abdicated its role in the matter.

The Chairperson asked who decided what should be done.

Ms Dipholo replied that SACE would look at what was needed, and the Department would then select service providers. She added that it was impossible to train a teacher in a two-day workshop for her/him to be teaching the new curriculum.

Mr Brijraj explained that a lot of money had been set aside for professional development by the Education and Training Development Practices Seta but it was not properly utilised.

The Chairperson asked SACE officials to forward stats and the amounts allocated and spent for development. She urged SACE to publicise the good work that they had been doing.

Ms Dudley suggested the inclusion of other life skills such as writing and reading to the training, because there was a whole generation of pupils that do not have those skills.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) suggested the reopening of the teacher training colleges that were dedicated to the job at hand.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on the proposed increase of the subscription fees and asked for a report on the deliberations of the meeting between the unions and SACE on the issue.

The CFO replied that the unions did not have any problems on the fee increase from R6 to R15, but the forthcoming meeting would only be an information sharing session.

The Chairperson informed the delegation that the questions were not meant to be harsh but to see how the Committee could help SACE in improving its performance.

Mr Brijraj thanked the Committee on behalf of the delegation and mentioned that they appreciated the input of the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.


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