It very unfortunate that the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) responded before engaging with me.
However I have never privately or publicly denounced any Union let alone Sadtu, who have a very good relationship with me and the department. We have regular meetings that I honour religiously.
My reading of the leaked report e-mailed to me by Sadtu Free State Provincial Secretary, Mr Mokholoane Moloi, is proposing an independent panel, which is different from District Directors being part of the panel.
It is therefore incorrect to suggest that I am implementing the leaked Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report which was investigating allegations into selling of posts of educators by some members of teachers’ unions and departmental officials in the various provincial education departments.
For the record I did not receive this report as the Minister has not even taken us in confidence on it.
I categorically reject the insinuation that I had access to the leaked report, as I did not even know the report was leaked. It is therefore disingenuous and insincere to link me with the leaked MTT report.
I have a good relationship with all the unions in the province. We had regular meetings where we tackle various challenge besetting basic education.
Frankly, I was taken aback by the damning Sadtu media statement.
In the past two days I tried in vain to have a meeting with the leadership of Sadtu.
On the appointment of principals, it is the prerogative of the department to ensure appropriately qualified principals are appointed. According to the collective agreement 1 of 2012, the panel for recruitment must have employer representative as resource person, parent component of the SGB and Unions as observers.
The circular we issued directing District Directors to form part of the panel in the appointment of principals does not in any way suggest that we undermine the teachers’ unions.
We will continue to explore different means to improve the recruitment system within the agreed collective agreement. Protesting without exhausting dispute resolution procedures will undermine collective bargaining.
The education summit hosted by the Premier of the Free State amongst others resolved on capacity building of School Management Teams (SMTs). There is no institution that prepares teachers to be principals. It is therefore the prerogative of the department to train current Heads of Department (HODs) and Deputy Principals as part of the succession plan.
All organizations prepare second layer leadership to sustain their management and leadership vision. There is no policy or directive that says only Deputy Principals will become principals.
On post provisioning there is no dispute with SADTU. The provincial ELRC has reached a unanimous decision on a 1:30 ratio which we approved.
Sadtu has appreciated the intervention on the matter and applauded the department for sustaining labor peace in the province.
The department continues to appreciate and value the contributions of labor Unions. There will always be challenges and different opinions on how to achieve the same goal.
We appeal to Sadtu leadership to keep the negotiations and bilateral options open to resolve the current problems as we have always done.
In all the previous bilateral meetings I had with Sadtu leadership the attitude has been to narrow differences and agree on subjecting areas of disagreement to further discussion. My understanding is that both parties should continue to respect that process.
There is no way I can denounced the role played by a teacher union such as Sadtu in the delivery of education in the province. These allegations are devoid of truth.
I am still upbeat that we will meet with Sadtu leadership to engage and find amicable solutions to any impasse.
– Issued by the Free State Department of Education MEC, Tate Makgoe