DA backs minister on exam boycott

2010-09-15 14:51

The Democratic Alliance has welcomed Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s stance that pupils who boycott preliminary exams will not get free marks worth 25% of their final grade.

Despite threats by the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) to disrupt prelims and “make the country ungovernable”, the department was correct in sticking to its exam timetable, the alliance’s spokesperson Wilmot James said today.

“This commitment, more than any other measure, will help normalise schooling again and give a fighting chance to our learners to succeed,” James said.

“We recognise how delicate the situation is. After the prolonged World Cup holidays, many teachers went on strike for three weeks, depriving students of classroom education.”

Since then, learners and teachers had to play catch-up, putting in extra time to prepare for exams.

Provincial education departments had tried to make extra teaching sessions available, but inevitably many children would feel these remedial efforts were not comprehensive enough.

“We empathise with their frustration. But it is not constructive to disrupt exams for learners who desire to take them,” James said.

Nor was the wanton destruction of school property, as had been reported in some areas.

These actions wasted valuable time and resources that could be spent getting back up to speed.

“We appeal to these unhappy students, and especially the Cosas leadership that is stoking the discontent, to apply their minds to their studies, not the disturbance of their colleagues.”

Motshekga had confirmed that the police would step in to secure the rights of pupils who wanted to write their exams without interference.

“Ultimately, a key message that our education system must teach our learners is that actions have consequences. For teachers who went on strike despite the ‘no work, no pay’ rule, they knew the consequences and now must face them.

“For students who refuse to take their preliminary exams, they too must face the consequences of their actions. When learners internalise this message, they become more responsible citizens, precisely the outcome that we want to encourage,” James said.

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