Magope Maphila (foreground), deputy president of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union attends their national general council at a Kempton Park hotel in eastern Johannesburg on Friday, 25 October 2013. The decision to suspend Sadtu president Thobile Ntola was not made lightly, Maphila said on Friday. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Durban - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her team should “shut up” and pump resources into classrooms instead of coming up with “stupid ideas” on how to improve the matric pass rate, the country’s largest teachers’ union said on Sunday.

An irritated Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, the KwaZulu-Natal secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), was commenting on ministerial recommendations on strategies to improve matric results.

The Report on the National Senior Certificate (NSC) proposed sweeping changes in the teaching and testing of matric pupils - including the re-introduction of mathematics at many schools that had ditched the subject.

The report recommended raising the requirements for passing the Language of Learning and Teaching from Higher Certificate onwards.

An exit certificate for Grade 9 would also be introduced.

Life orientation should be done away with as a matric subject, and teachers moderating the final examination should be appointed using stricter criteria than at present and must have the required qualifications and experience.

These teachers, according to the report released on May 26, must be required to demonstrate their competence before their appointment. The task team further recommended that tribalism and political sectionalism should have no place in the system of appointing matric examination paper markers.

Sadtu’s KZN branch has rejected the recommendations outright.

“They should not come up with stupid ideas and recommendations that will unsettle the education system,” Mathonsi said.

“Instead of ameliorating the pathetic conditions educators face on a daily basis, they spend time and resources in finding stupid ideas.

“We are not going to support that nonsense.”

Mathonsi tore into the report, calling the recommendations ill informed.

“Why abandon life orientation as a subject?

“This is the subject that helps learners understand who they are, the challenges of life and how to deal with issues. The subject plays a role in building the country,” he said.

“Who was involved in this process? All these recommendations are unscientific.

“To say you employ experts to mark papers is stupid.

“What is wrong with the current procedure of employing moderators?

“Who is involved tribalism or which political party is interfering with the employment process?

“The way they put it would seem as if they say there’s political interference in the employment system. We as Sadtu will not support this nonsense,” Mathonsi said.

Elijah Mhlanga, spokesman for the department, said any complaint on the report was premature.

“Look, the report still has to be gone through thoroughly by the department. We haven’t even made a decision regarding whether to implement the recommendations or not.”

He added that the announcement to make representations and input had been widely publicised early last year, and unions, school governing bodies, individuals, organisations (such as monitoring body Umalusi) and others had all been invited to place their comments on record.

“Our task team took these comments and also used international comparative studies and local studies to come to their conclusions.”

Additional reporting by Kamcilla Pillay

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