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Parliamentary Bulletin

28 AUGUST 1998


THE EMPLOYMENT OF EDUCATORS BILL

The Minister of Education assessed the historic problems around the employment of teachers concisely and with the Employment of Educators Bill took a major step towards regulating and stabilising the teaching profession. The Bill clarifies the various crises, conflicts and tensions that became inherently part of the Apartheid education system, and reflects a consensus that has been built by all the role players. It provides the basis for resolving the crisis points that emerged in the process of transforming the education system and redressing the inequalities inherited from Apartheid. It further affirms the role of school governing bodies in the appointment of teachers.

What do we achieve with this Bill?

The Bill gives remarkable clarity on the roles, functions and relationships of all the stakeholders in the education sector by explaining:

  • who the employer is
  • the employment process
  • the relationships of government departments, politicians and communities
  • the different malpractices and disciplinary procedures

Building on the Good Work of the ANC

Existing legislation has certain weaknesses which the Bill will address. It provides clear guidelines for:

  • Regulating the employment of educators at public schools, further education and training institutions and departmental offices and adult education centres
  • Determining who are employers of teachers, and the allocation of posts to educational institutions
  • Obtaining the recommendation of school governing bodies, for public schools, and the councils, for further education and training centres before appointing, promoting or transferring an educator
  • Retirement and ill-health of educators, and
  • Defining incapacity and misconduct, and outlining a process to deal with them
  • Making the South African Council of Educators (SACE) a statutory body

Making Cooperative Governance a Reality

  • Many of the conflicts in education came from the lack of understanding exactly what cooperative governance means. The Bill makes it clear that the Minister leads the transformation process, while provinces are responsible for implementing basic, general and further education. The Minister therefore sets the norms and standards for salaries and other conditions of service for all State employed educators. This ensures that such matters can be agreed on nationally through collective bargaining.
  • The Bill makes it difficult for opposition parties, like the NP and the DP, to mobilise unsuspecting communities against the Education Department by distorting facts. The ANC recognises the importance of school governing bodies, community involvement and transparency. The Bill insists their importance, role and functions.
  • The education budget will now go directly to provinces and therefore MECs are now responsible for allocating posts according to the provincial budget. The Bill clarifies the role of the MECs in creating posts, while the Heads of Department are the employer for all other purposes.
  • According to the Bill school governing bodies and councils are the employer of educators that are employed in addition to state funded posts. For the ANC, cooperative governance means building new relations with schools based on a partnership between governing bodies and the State. It requires that the role of the State in transformation must be balanced with the rights of teachers. The role of school governing bodies or councils is re-affirmed in the Bill because appointments, promotions and transfers can only be made on the recommendations of those bodies. These recommendations must take into account the candidate`s ability and the need to redress past imbalances. The rationalisation process will ensure that school governing bodies will have to choose teachers from the redeployment list. The historic conflict between communities and the State has now been replaced with partnerships between communities and the State
  • Teacher unions have a crucial role to play, as important partners in transformation, and in building a culture of learning and teaching in schools. In the past they were disowned, disempowered and were not allowed to make the type of meaningful contributions they are making today.

Teachers unions were traditionally seen by the Apartheid state as groups of communists who were simply too lazy to teach and were intent on subverting the internal stability of the country. The new democratic Government not only rectified this misconception, but also recognised the need for unions to participate in policy making, the right to represent the needs of teachers and inform their members and their communities about their role in a democracy. The ANC understands the frustrations of workers, because it is a workers-led movement and workers are a part of it.

  • This Bill will make it easier for the state to continue with the redeployment of teachers from well resourced schools to poorly resourced schools. The dictatorial mechanisms of appointments of teachers and decision making, which were put in place by the NP Government, served only the interests, the preservation and divisive tactics of that Government.
  • The Bill also separates misconduct of teachers from incapacity and it clarifies the disciplinary process that should be followed in each case, bringing it into line with the proposed new Public Service Act.

The South African Council of Educators (SACE)

The Bill makes the SACE a legal, professional body for educators. All educators employed by the State must now be registered with the SACE. The powers of the Council include taking disciplinary measures against teachers who are guilty of professional misconduct. It may also strike teachers from its register - in the same way that the Medical Council scraps doctors from its roll. Another step towards making teaching professional.

Key Political Messages

  • The Bill is a victory for co-operative governance. It re-affirms the leadership of the Minister in cooperation with the provinces, unions and school governing bodies. The ANC is committed to school governing bodies but we cannot allow these bodies to subvert the transformation process.
  • It is the result of painstaking negotiations between the Minister, the provinces, teachers unions and school governing bodies. The history of depriving the majority of people of any say in the law making process of this country has been turned around since 1994 and the ANC will continue to do so.
  • The Employment of Educators Bill will help to avert future disputes and conflicts in education. Whereas the NP Government created, promoted and perpetuated conflicts in the past, leaving the country deeply divided and full of mutual distrust, the ANC has sought to accommodate, compromise and reconcile opposing positions.
  • The Bill lays the basis for re-establishing a professional code of conduct for teachers which provides a foundation for rebuilding a culture of learning and teaching in our schools.
  • The Employment of Educators Bill is another step in making South Africa a better place.

     
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