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Media Release

26 July, 2007

Swartz welcomes work on recovery programmes

We welcome the contribution that unions and governing body associations have made to developing the Recovery Plan following the public service strike last term. As a department, we have made a number key compromises with the unions to win their support for the Recovery Plan, the most important being the introduction of extra tuition time for all grades instead of only Grade 12.

Unfortunately, the unions have rejected the plan. However, we believe that we have a solid plan that will provide our learners with additional support to ensure that the school year is successful.

We have always considered the Recovery Plan to be an educational intervention to mediate the effects of the strike. It is therefore unfortunate and extremely disappointing that the teacher unions were unwilling to support the plan simply because of the proposed stipend.

It is very heartening to report, though, that many schools and teachers have already started their own recovery programmes, and have not waited for, or demanded any form of remuneration for their initiative. It is clear that, for these teachers, the educational interest of the learners was of primary importance to them. I would like to commend those teachers for their initiative and their commitment to their profession and to their learners.

The stipend that we are offering equals a teacher's hourly or daily salary. We have gone beyond this and have also offered to cover the transport costs of teachers who will be participating in the Saturday classes and Spring School in September.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) released details of Phase 1 of the plan on 29 June 2007, in conjunction with the national Department of Education, immediately after the strike ended.

The first phase included providing a wide range of support materials including study guides, textbooks, pacesetters and programmes on electronic and print media.

The plan included measures for recovery in all grades, from Grade R to 12. We started work on the Recovery Plan with the national department while the strike was still in progress, so that we could start implementing it as soon as the strike ended.

The plan included Winter Schools during the July holiday in six of the seven education districts of the province. The seventh district, South Cape/Karoo, opted to hold classes on Saturday mornings during the third term and the September holiday.

We had to implement the plan in two phases, because we had to engage unions and governing body associations in planning for the third term. At the same time, we had to make the most of the window of opportunity provided by the July holiday.

We are glad that we could now get together to thrash out the detail of what we need to do to cover crucial aspects of the curriculum during the third term.

During our Winter Schools, learners demonstrated that they are keen to learn. We are asking them to make further sacrifices, but given their response so far, we are confident that they will do well at the end of the year.

A key aspect of the Recovery Plan relates to the need for schools to address the issue of tension and conflict among staff, specifically strikers and non-strikers. We have reiterated, throughout the strike, that it was the democratic right of every individual to make the choice whether to participate in the strike or not, and that it was essential that people respected these rights.

Given that not all educators at all schools participated in the strike, it is conceivable that tensions will have arisen among teachers at the same school. It is critical that the working relationship between teachers is a co-operative one if we are to ensure that our learners are not further disadvantaged by the strike.

It is essential therefore, that the principal, together with the School Management Team and the SGB, initiate a programme to restore relationships where these have broken down during the strike.

Issued by:
Paddy Attwell
Director: Communication
Western Cape Education Department
Tel: 021 467 2531
Fax: 021 461 3694
Email: pattwell@pgwc.gov.za

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2007 WCED