Some Gauteng schools to 'defy' exam delay

Kamogelo Seekoei, David Macfarlane and Ryan Hoffmann

Some schools in Gauteng have already said they will not implement the provincial education department’s injunction on Wednesday that matric preliminary exams be postponed. For the well being of their pupils, they will set their own exams and adhere to the original prelim dates.

Speaking exclusively to M&G Education, Roger Millson, executive officer of the Gauteng chapter of the Governing Body Foundation, said prelim exams at schools his foundation oversees will start next week as originally planned. The foundation represents 350 schools in Gauteng.

Millson says at least one district was in consultation with its district office and agreed that the schools would use the department’s time table.

‘And I assume that the district got permission from the department.”

“Unfortunately I cannot mention the names of schools as there is a threat of intimidation,” Millson said. And “one school has already started with the preliminary exams”, he added.

Gauteng education minister Barbara Creecy announced the postponement on Wednesday morning—reportedly an “indefinite” one. The department then told M&G Education the postponement would be by two weeks.

‘Disaster of unprecedented proportions’
Millson said the schools decided to ignore the postponement because they believe that their learners should sit under the stringent conditions characterised by a preliminary exam. “Otherwise how will the learners assess their performance and prepare for the final?” he said.

“We are headed for a matric disaster of unprecedented proportions” if many schools do not hold prelim exams properly, he added.

What the department’s postponement meant was that the department is “effectively cancelling the [prelim] exams”, Millson said: “As soon as learners return from the September holidays they will have to sit for their final exams.”

Gauteng education departmental spokesperson Charles Phaahlane told M&G Education that officials would meet on Wednesday to plan for the possibility of such a rebellion.

He could not say whether there would be penalties for school governing bodies that resisted the department’s ruling and the possibility of such a rebellion is “something the department would have to look at”.

Meanwhile, the NGO Equal Education announced that it would picket outside the Western Cape education department in a call to government to bring their teachers back to schools by offering them an 8,6% wage increase and R1 000 housing subsidy. The government’s offer remains at 7% and R500.

Equal Education has been spearheading a campaign—backed by trade union federation Cosatu—to get libraries into all schools. Only 8% of public schools have adequate libraries, the NGO says—an estimate the government has never disputed.

David Macfarlane

David Macfarlane

David Macfarlane is currently the Mail & Guardian's education editor. He obtained an honours degree in English literature, a fairly unpopular choice among those who'd advised him to study something that would give him a real career and a pension plan. David joined the M&G in the late 1990s. There, the publication's youth – which was nearly everyone except him – also tried to further his education. Since April 2010, he's participated in the largest expansion of education coverage the M&G Media has ever undertaken. He says he's "soon" going on "real annual leave", which will entail "switching off this smart phone the M&G youth told me I needed".  
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