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Unions, Basic Education in tense stand-off over ANAs

The ANAs are set to begin today, but teacher unions say they won't be administering the tests.

Teachers unions plan to boycott the ANAs. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Teachers' unions boycotting the Annual National Assessments (ANAs) expected to start today say their decision is in defence of collective bargaining after the Basic Education Department pulled out of a mediated draft agreement to postpone the tests.

The ANAs are due to begin today, but unions including the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (Saou), the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) and the Professional Educators Union (Peu) say they won't be administering the tests as they believe the decision to write them is ill timed.

There is now a tense stand-off between the Basic Education Department and the unions.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke says Minister Angie Motshekga is trying to divide what he calls 'the teaching fraternity'.

"And in the process, isolate labour. Organised labour appeals to these groupings not to allow themselves to be abused by the minister as a divisive tool.

But Saou CEO Chris Klopper says they haven't called for Motshekga to resign.

"What we are asking for is, the minister must note the level of frustration amongst teachers and dare I says amongst learners and parents as well."

Teachers boycotting the ANAs are expected to explain to their heads of department in each province why they refuse to administer the tests.

Collectively, they represent around 400,000 teachers and say they're not afraid of potential disciplinary action by the department.

National Teachers Union (Natu) deputy president Allen Thompson says the Basic Education Minister is taking decisions unilaterally.

"We agreed with the minister that we are going to write in 2016 after we have remodelled the ANAs. All of a sudden, the minister decided to change the position. That is why we have decided to take a joined position, to say we want to correct this new culture that is becoming permanent on the side of the minister."

WATCH: A coalition of teachers unions have formally announced they will be boycotting the administration of the Annual National Assessments which are due to begin nationwide on Thursday.

The Department of Basic Education insists the tests will be written today, but the unions say they add no value to the curriculum and are ill timed.

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