Democratic Alliance leader and Western Province Premier Helen Zille on Friday accused the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) of shielding incompetent teachers at the expense of quality education.

Ms Zille wrote in her weekly newsletter that the DA would push ahead with plans to make all teachers in the Western Cape sign performance contracts, which would see them evaluated according to the results their students achieved.

She said it was part of plans to double literacy levels in grade three to six to 90 percent and increase numeracy levels from 35 percent for grade three learners and 14 percent for grade six to an average of 80 percent.

“These are ambitious targets, but we believe we can meet them with a sustained, focused and systematic approach that holds teachers, principals and schools accountable for failure to achieve set targets,” Ms Zille said.

“The response from Sadtu has, predictably, been belligerent. They say they will oppose any plans [which] change the conditions of service for teachers.

I hope they will see sense and put the interests of children first.

“Militancy should be aimed at ensuring our education system works, not protecting underperforming school and teachers.”

Ms Zille said that although South Africa spent nearly a fifth of the national budget on education, the system was failing because it was poorly managed.

She said many good teachers were forced out of the system 13 years ago through voluntary severance packages, while poor teachers were not held to account when they failed to produce results.

“They are protected by powerful unions, such as Sadtu, who care more about shielding incompetent cadres than about the quality of our children’s education.”

www.sapa.org.za; 20091204 / www.thestar.co.za; 20091205

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