This M & G report highlights one of the biggest problems underpinning education in South Africa. As can be seen, one survey indicates that as many as 68% of grade 6 maths teachers are inadequately informed on the subject to teach in it at that level. The Direct Democracy Forum don’t have statistics available for all subjects at all levels but anecdotal evidence suggests that that sort of incompetency may exists across most subjects at most levels. It follows that if the teachers are unable to teach at any given level they are incompetent to judge the competency of others at that level viz. they are equally incompetent to mark at that level.
Should unions be concerned and what should their position be?
The DDF believe that unions should be concerned, not with the fact that many of their members may not be allowed to mark but rather with the fact that many of these members may be required to perform duties they are incompetent to perform. We believe that the union position should be that those who are incompetent at any given knowledge level should be encouraged to acquire the required level of knowledge or to teach and mark at a level for which they are fit to do so. This should involve ongoing competency examinations and testing.
This is not intended to denigrate the dignity of our teachers but rather to equip them professionally for their duties in the classroom and marking rooms so that they can competently deliver a sound education to their pupils. Far from denigrating the dignity of teachers such a process will empower them and reinforce their dignity. At the same time it will also deliver to South Africa’s pupils what they have a constitutional and moral right to expect, a competent and meaningful education, which will suitably prepare them for their lives as responsible and contributing members of society. They too need to be empowered, they too have a dignity which needs to be considered.
The DDF are firmly in favour of the application of merit at all levels and across all activities in society. This includes the education process. In fact, the assessment of merit in academics and teaching skills are fundamental to a functioning education system and a DDF administration will deliver just such levels of merit assessment as are needed in the classrooms of South Africa, and believe they will do so with the support of the unions, who also need to be empowered to perform their duties to their members and to society in a dignified and ethical manner.
DDF education policies are intended to lift all out of the poverty of ignorance and incompetence so that everyone in South Africa can find a fruitful place for themselves in society.
The buck stops at the ballot box.