Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa poured praise on the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) on Saturday night as he continued with speaking engagements in what is widely regarded as an unofficial campaign trail prior to the African National Congress’s elective conference in December.
Speaking at the Greyville Racecourse in Durban as part of Sadtu’s KwaZulu-Natal conference, Ramaphosa said he honoured the union for working to mould school pupils into “patriots”.
Sadtu was “great and powerful” because it had organised up to 70 percent of workers in its sector.
“Some people don’t like strong unions, but the ANC does,” he told a full house at the gala dinner.
“Sadtu occupies a special place in the struggle as it fought and won the battle for recognition of teacher unions in South Africa. There are some who look at Sadtu and say the union is too powerful, is a burden, and is not contributing to the transformation of the education system. Well, you ask me, and I know that Sadtu has been a partner in the transformation of our education system. This I know for a fact,” he said.
“Working with you, we have improved educational outcomes and school attendance and introduced a pro-poor funding model of our education system, and together we are expanding early childhood development, prioritising teacher development, and improving the quality of learning and of teaching.”
Teachers were tasked with nation building.
“You can forget what we as politicians say from time to time when we stand on podiums and say our task is that of nation building. No, if anybody has a task of building a nation, it is you, as teachers.”
Some of Sadtu’s national officials had displayed “great intellect and great wisdom” as they came up with “outstanding ideas” on how to improve the country’s education system.
“Sadtu has been a great boon, rather than a burden, to our education system,” Ramaphosa said.
Sadtu was applauded for taking a stand against the sexual exploitation of pupils.
“We know that it is through your leadership in classrooms that we will stop the sexual exploitation of learners.”
Sadtu also needed to ensure that schools were “safe havens” from crime, drugs, and alcohol abuse.
“We look forward to you becoming the agents of changing our schools where our children will learn in peace and not be bothered by drug dealers or alcohol peddlers,” Ramaphosa said.
– African News Agency (ANA)