South African Council for Educators (SACE): Basic Education Committee Commends Efforts to VET Teachers
All processes are in place and Umalusi is ready to conduct the South African Sign Language (SASL) examinations quality assurance process
This will go a long way to keep unsavoury educators out of the system and protect our learners
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has commended efforts by the South African Council for Educators (SACE) to enhance safety in the school environment.
The committee had an engagement with SACE on its 2017/18 strategic and annual performance plans and budget in which the entity elaborated on its online educator registration system. On-the-spot registration of educators is being phased out in order to address effective vetting and verification processes, as part of the fitness-to-practice registration process. This will include the submission of a clearance certificate from the South African Police Services and the Department of Justice in relation to the sexual offences register prior to obtaining registration.
Committee Chairperson Ms Nomalungelo Gina said this is an extremely important step in ensuring the safety of learners. “This will go a long way to keep unsavoury educators out of the system and protect our learners. We will keep a close eye on the process, as everything must be done to make the schooling environment safe.”
SACE reminded the committee that its mandate only relates to educators. Therefore, it is engaging with employers and the Department of Basic Education to take responsibility for other people working in school environments outside its mandate. This includes sports coaches, extra-curricular trainers, private tutors, food handlers, scholar transport and security guards.
In terms of sexual offences and harassment cases, the committee heard that SACE is currently conducting research to ascertain if sexual offences are on the rise in schools in real terms or rather that more awareness is leading to higher rates of reporting. The committee noted comments from SACE that initial indications are that the sexual offences and harassment culprits are mostly male teacher between 35 and 54 years of age, with an office or laboratory, or access to learners after school. SACE emphasised that sexual relations between educators and learners cannot be allowed to continue.
The committee heard that the postgraduate certificate in education should be reconsidered or redefined, as it has unintended consequences and creates perceptions of preferential treatment regarding employment. A code of professional teaching ethics and professional teaching standards will be incorporated into the teacher education qualification programmes.
The committee also received a presentation from the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training and from Umalusi on its annual performance plan. It also received a report on the state of readiness to quality assure South African Sign Language (SASL) as a home language. SASL home language was introduced in the senior phase in 2015. 2018 will be the first time that Grade 12 learners will matriculate with SASL as a home language.
The committee also heard that a total of 69 candidates at 11 schools countrywide are registered to write Grade 12. The committee heard all processes are in place and Umalusi is ready to conduct the SASL examinations quality assurance process.
Ms Gina said although there are still gaps, this is a step in the right direction towards inclusive education for all learners.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.