The Annual National Assessment tests, which were due to take place last week but postponed after pressure from unions, will go ahead in December.
This is the word from the Department of Basic Education, following a meeting with teacher trade unions on Sunday in Pretoria.
“Among the items on the table for discussion were the recent developments around the Annual National Assessments,” according to a statement from the department.
“During a meeting held between the Department of Basic Education and the three leading teacher trade unions on 10 December 2015, it was agreed that a task team would be set up to deal with the issues raised by the unions within 90 days.
“In the meeting Sunday however the unions indicated that despite an agreement to postpone the ANA to early next year, they had no intention of administering the assessments at all and denied agreeing to postpone the assessments, but instead claimed to reject the writing of ANA in its current form at all costs.
“This is concerning to DBE as the unions and the Department essentially agree on all substantial issues they have raised regarding ANA. SADTU in particular raised concerns regarding ANA after their last National Conference, and as a major stakeholder holder in the education sector, the Department took the issues they raised very seriously.
“A discussion document around the administration of ANA was gazetted for public comment in July this year already, but all indications were that for the time being ANA would go ahead as planned. It was only a week before the costly exercise was meant to take place that unions indicated they would not administer ANA.
“The Department and indeed its Minister have always been open to constructive engagement and consultation on all policy matters effecting the sector, and we value the input of teacher unions at all times.
“The dates the DBE sets for assessments have never been a matter of negotiation.  CEM decided that the assessments will be written from the 1st to the 4th of December 2015, and as the highest executive decision making body in the sector, made up of MEC’s and the Ministry, they have a mandate to review policy decisions of the Department. All provinces indicated that they will be able to go ahead with the ANA to avoid the assessments being carried over into the next year and avoid disrupting the system.
“We appreciate the teacher trade unions for their commitment to continued engagement with the department. The task team set up will hold its first meeting on Monday and all teacher trade unions are participating in this process.
“As the Department of Basic Education we advise all teachers to ignore the messages being circulated and instead prepare to administer ANA in December in the best interests of learners and the sector as a whole.
“A volatile atmosphere created by unnecessary rhetoric needs to be avoided at all costs. We have agreed to engage with unions on a monthly basis for the remainder of the year to constructively deal with the concerns they have raised. Beyond that we have agreed to meet with unions on a quarterly basis to avoid any further communication lapses.
“In whatever we do in education let’s keep the vision of our former President front of mind when he said:  “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” Nelson Mandela.
“As the Department of Basic Education we are committed to improving the education sector through specific and targeted interventions identified through the diagnostic assessments.
“We must reiterate that the Department is not opposed to the restructuring of ANA as it is a process that was already underway, having been initiated by the Department last year. However the administration of ANA 2015 will go ahead as planned in 2015.”