Adult students unhappy

2008-07-06 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has dismissed allegations levelled by students at Manaye Public Adult Learning Centre of incompetence and lack of performance there.

The Witness received a number of complaints from students who said they have been studying at the institution for years, but are yet to graduate.

“I first started in 1999, but I don’t hold even one certificate from that place. There are not many who can say they have, I certainly can’t think of even one person who has completed all their studies there, not even the clever ones,” said a 54-year-old domestic worker.

She said she and others wrote the Numeracy level four paper last year, only to be told they were absent for the examination, despite an attendance register taken on the day of exams.

Others said they wrote an English level four paper in 2007, but were told the whole class failed.

“This thing is a big problem here. Everything seems to be fine; you attend class faithfully, despite the fact that you have work and other commitments.

“But when it comes to results, they are lacking. How can everyone fail? Yes, some of us are old, our minds are not the same and we make mistakes. But are they not trained to teach people like us?” asked the woman.

Another student complained that the courses are offered sporadically and are often changed without consultation with students.

“It is the same pattern over and over again. You start a course and do okay, but just when you think you are at the finishing line, they will just stop that course and tell you to start Tourism.

What am I going to do with Tourism? I’m old and some of us just want to learn English so we can communicate at work. Some just want to get our matric so we can be employable. But it is like we are being punished for not having received the opportunity to get matric earlier,” she said.

A 33-year-old man said students who are currently doing their English level four fear the same thing will happen to them.

“We are worried. What will stop them from doing the same to us. English always has the biggest class, how can everyone fail? For the whole year, we have [been] attending and many of us are sponsored by our companies to be here. It will be as if we were abusing company time for other things,” he said.

He said that while this concerns them deeply, they can’t speak to the principal because of his temper.

Bhekumuzi Hlela, the chief education specialist for the Abet (adult education) sub-directorate, said Manaye conducts examinations that are administered and controlled by the provincial examination and assessment directorate and conform to quality standards.

He said the centre’s pass rate is above average and the department is satisfied with the performance.

According to Hlela, the students registered for the 2007 Numeracy level four exams were noted as absent by the examination and assessment directorate.

“The principal has written a letter with all supporting evidence to prove that they did write, [on] January 15, but up to now, they have not responded.”

Hlela said not all the English students failed the level four paper last year and the results are available at the centre.

He said the students know how to “channel their grievances”, and as adults, cannot be treated like children. He also said many drop out of courses because of other commitments.

sphumem@witness.co.za

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