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Zuma calls for Sadtu unity

The president also said history should be made a compulsory subject.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday called on educators to debate whether history should be made a compulsory subject.

He also called on teachers to encourage the teaching of indigenous languages.

The president made the comments at the opening South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu's) 8th National Congress in Boksburg on Gauteng's East Rand.

Zuma says the value of teaching history as a compulsory subject would instill a greater sense of post-apartheid South African heritage in the youth.

"As educators, you are well placed to understand the value of this call and details thereof. Our children, black and white, should know the evils of colonialism, racism and apartheid."

The gathering kicked off with delegates struggling to agree on a set of rules to govern the meeting.

In response, Zuma called for unity.

The congress is the first meeting of Sadtu's national, provincial and local leadership and follows the suspension of union president Thobile Ntola.

This has created rival factions within Sadtu with the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal emerging as Ntola's strongest supporters.

Delegates from the two provinces have unsuccessfully objected to almost every notion tabled in the session.

"As you deliberate, I urge you to focus on unity. You need to build an even stronger Sadtu that will continue to support the African National Congress."

Zuma says Sadtu should emerge from this conference with greater support for the ANC.

Nominations for new leadership will remain open until 5pm on Thursday.

Elections are said to follow.