More provinces postpone matric prelims

The number of provinces in which matric preliminary exams have been postponed jumped to five on Thursday—from three on Wednesday.

The department of basic education told M&G Education on Thursday that the Northern Cape and the North West have also postponed their prelim exams. They join Gauteng, the Free State and Eastern Cape. The department did not reveal how long the postponement would be in each province—but Gauteng had said on Wednesday that prelims due to start next week would start two weeks later than scheduled.

The department said it had put a number of measures in place, specifically to mitigate the effect of the strike on learning and teaching.

“Most provinces have now indicated that they have learning centres in place where learners are bussed on a daily basis. Specialist teachers and NGOs are providing teaching to learners at these centres. We also have revision programmes in place on SABC radio and TV. The Department of Basic Education has been encouraging learners to form study groups and to contact the strike hotline [0800 202 933] of the department if they require learning and teaching support materials,” said the department’s spokesperson Granville Whittle.

“Provinces have also distributed learning materials to schools. The department has made available such materials on our website as well, particularly to the Grade 12s. We have called on school governing bodies (SGBs) to provide supervision services at schools.”

Whittle stressed that the exams were not cancelled, but will proceed when it is conducive to do so, and dismissed suggestions of defiance after some SGBs in Gauteng indicated they would go ahead with prelim exams as planned.

“The trial exams are important as they provide a practice run for the final exams. All provinces have indicated that they will proceed with the exams as soon as it is conducive to proceed,” he said. “Our position has always been that where schools are functioning they should be encouraged to continue.”

‘Laying charges’
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has laid charges against the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), following an upsurge in violence and intimidation at schools.

DA spokesperson on Education, James Lorimer laid a charge against the union’s regional chairperson Moses Senye and regional general secretary Ronald Nyathi, who allegedly urged members to disrupt schools which were not on strike.

According to a statement from Lorimer, Senye and Nyathi said they would target schools in three areas and implied that violence would be used to shut them down. Following their statements all three of those schools have closed, one after violent disruption, and the other two out of fear of violence.

“Even operating schools are nervous. Parents, teachers and pupils are stressed and education is being disrupted. Teachers have a legal right to strike but not to interfere with those who do not wish to join them. From the Eastern and Western Cape to KwaZulu-Natal, teaching has stopped because of fear of violence,” said Lorimer.

“In every case Sadtu is behind the intimidation and violence. This is not democracy.”

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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