/ 14 September 2010

Cosas: ‘Minister will run’ if prelims aren’t scrapped

As matric prelim exams across the country are disrupted for thousands of learners, the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has vowed to make the country “ungovernable” if the education department does not scrap prelims.

Many learners are not ready for prelims because they could not attend school during the recent teachers’ strike, Cosas secretary general Antonio Carelse told Mail & Guardian Education on Tuesday.

The school year was also disrupted by the Soccer World Cup, meaning Grade 12s had even less time to prepare for prelims, he said.

“We tried engaging with the national department of basic education about these issues, but they undermined us by sending junior officials to the meeting,” said Carelse. “She [the minister of basic education Angie Motshekga] is a comrade, but we are not happy that she is continuing to impose her will on us.”

Motshekga “must not come crying to us when we make the country ungovernable”, Carelse told the M&G. “The minister will run. As fat as she is, she will run!”

‘We are not Cosatu’
Cosas wants the prelim exams — which make up 25% of the final Grade 12 mark — scrapped, saying the department “must compensate learners for this percentage [the 25% prelim mark]”.

Learners will not back down from their demands, Carelse said: “We are not Cosatu or Sadtu who backed down [during the recent public service strike]. We are not going to compromise.”

“We are obviously concerned by the effect all of this will have on the final exams, but it seems as if the minister does not care. She does not want to come to the table.

“At the time we welcomed her appointment but now some of our members are wishing that Naledi Pandor [former education minister] could come back.”

Cosas students started disrupting prelim exams at schools in the Free State last week Thursday and protests spread to Gauteng, Limpopo, North West and the Eastern Cape as prelims got under way there this week.

On Tuesday Timeslive reported that prelim exams ground to a halt in most township schools in Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday after police fired rubber bullets and turned water cannon on thousands of protesting learners. In Gauteng, the provincial education department had to intervene after exams were disrupted at schools on the West Rand.

The Sowetan reported that police will be deployed to schools in Limpopo on Tuesday, following the arrest of more than 100 learners during protests on Monday.

Carelse confirmed that Cosas had been meeting with the Gauteng department of education (GDE), but claims the meeting was used to threaten his organisation with court orders.

GDE spokesperson Charles Phaahlani told the M&G that he was not present at the meeting so could not confirm what was discussed.