Education Labour Relations Council: briefing

Basic Education

14 April 2003
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND SECLEFCT COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE; EDUCATION AND RECREATION SELECT COMMITTEE: JOINT MEETING
15 April 2003
EDUCATION LABOUR RELATIONS COUNCIL: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Mr SM Mayatula

Documents handed out:
Education Labour Relations Council presentation
Annual Report 2002

SUMMARY
The Education Labour Relations Council briefed the Committee on its vision, core functions and income and expenditure. The core business of the Council is to facilitate the negotiation and consultation processes. It is also to facilitate and provide for a non-partisan forum for such dispute resolution. The Committee commended the Council for its dispute resolution work thus far. Members were interested in how the Council planned to overcome challenges that it had identified. The Council expressed its willingness to work with the Department of Education and other relevant bodies in solving problems that were within its scope of duty.

MINUTES
The Committee adopted minutes of 1 April 2003 and 8 April 2003. The Committee programme for the second term was adopted with minor modifications.

Briefing by ELRC
Mr Dhaya Govender: General Secretary, Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), conducted the presentation on the vision, mission, composition and functions of the ELRC. The Council was established in terms of Section 37(2) of the Labour Relations Act. There are approximately 350 000 educators falling within the scope of the Council. The ELRC is funded through levies paid by educators and equal contributions from the Department of Education.

Mr Govender emphasised that the ELRC was committed to peaceful labour relations and staff development and the principles underlying the Constitution. He then identified challenges and areas of concern facing the ELRC. He concluded by presenting statistics of dispute resolution services and the types of disputes reported in each province.

Mr Geoffrey Moshaka presented on the finances of the ELRC. He provided statistics on the sources of income, current expenditure and trust funds projects. (Please refer to the attached presentation).

Discussion
Ms Vilakazi (IFP) argued that school-governing bodies were vested with too much power and suggested that the Department of Education should play an oversight role. She made an example of schools whose governing body was all white yet pupils were of different colours. Such situations created a disadvantage for blacks pupils whose needs were not catered for by an all white school governing body.

Ms Vilakazi commented that the ELRC should do something about teachers who agree to be deployed in rural schools but do not go to those schools and yet receive and use the financial incentives of working in rural schools.

Mr Govender agreed with the problems raised by Ms Vilakazi. However, he emphasised that the Council could not solve problems that were beyond its scope and some problems were referred to other bodies.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked if the induction and orientation programme provided by the ELRC would not exclude teachers who were already in the system.

Mr Govender explained that the induction programme was for young and new teachers and that most of the teachers already in the system were young. The Council was preparing to publish a policy handbook to help teachers in their daily duties. He also explained that the induction programme would be funded for only three years as a means to kick-start the promotion of good culture of learning and teaching.

Mr Kgwele indicated that from his experience as an educator he could only conclude that high levels of disputes in schools reflected poor leadership and inadequate preparation and lack of training of school governing bodies to handle employment interviews and appointments.

Mr Kgwele observed that the Council was following the trend of talking about a brain drain of teachers and yet said nothing about returning teachers. It undertook no studies of teachers who were returning to South Africa.

Mr Govender agreed that the return of teachers to South Africa should be researched.

Mr Abrahams (ANC) said that it was good that the Council had identified certain problematic areas such as the bad publicity of teachers' image. However, he asked how the Council planned on resolving the problem areas so that it could make learning and teaching attractive to teachers and pupils.

Mr Govender agreed that the reputation of teachers was tarnished and that public education was regarded as lacking in quality. He said that the Department of Education needed to ensure good quality public schools and that it was the function of the Department to re-establish the good reputation of teachers.

Mr Sogoni (UDM) asked if there were statistics on the decreasing learner enrolments and on the financial exclusion of pupils.

Mr Govender said that there were only limited statistics provided by the Department.

Mr Sogoni asked what constituted victimisation under the types of disputes that the ELRC had dealt with.

Mr Govender said that the term had not yet been analysed and he only knew that there were different kinds of cases referred to as victimisation.

Mr Moonsamy (ANC) referred to one of the targets the ELRC had set for themselves, namely, to convene a summit on public education. He asked what the purpose of the education summit was.

Mr Govender explained that the purpose of the summit was to discuss issues facing public education.

Mr Moonsamy asked if women and people with disabilities were part of management.

Mr Komphela (ANC) later asked a similar question about the Council's silence on women and people with disabilities in their targets.

Mr Govender said that the Council had not yet focused on that but it would do that in future.

Mr R Ntuli (DP) commended the Council for its analysis of the problems facing public education. He suggested that a comprehensive teacher evaluation was necessary to enhance quality in public education. He asked if the Council had any means to convince unions to buy into the idea of teacher evaluation.

Mr Govender explained that there was an agreement with the unions on dealing with the evaluation of both office based and system-based educators.

Mr Komphela (ANC) asked if people living with HIV were still being dismissed from their teaching positions.

Mr Govender said that the issue was a legally complicated one that the Council had not yet dealt with.

Mr Komphela was puzzled about the ultimate blame for infrastructure incapacity. He asked how the Council analysed the matter of incapacity and underspending.

Mr Govender said that the issue was a complicated one that the Council had not yet dealt with.

The Chairperson thanked the Council and Members for attending and participating.

The meeting was adjourned.

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