It’s catch-up time for schools

2010-09-07 00:00

WHILE the news of the suspended strike has been welcomed by local principals, many are already dreading the mammoth task before them of trying to make up lost time.

Five weeks were lost to the extended winter holidays to accommodate the Fifa World Cup.

The strike was yesterday entering its fourth week and some city pupils have not had lessons since August 6 as teachers attended union meetings to prepare for the strike.

Said the principal of a Northdale school, “We were at school yesterday since we heard that the strike was suspended. I had the full complement of the staff, but not all the children were there. I think many of the parents are public servants themselves and they wanted to be sure it was safe to have their children back at school.”

While his school had a 99% matric pass rate last year, he is not as positive about what this year’s results will be.

“When we closed for the strike most of the work was completed. But my concern is that we have not had a meaningful revisions programme. Our children have done well and have always managed to maintain a 100% pass rate because we have always prepared them well.”

Another principal described trial exams as a full dress rehearsal where teachers get a chance to prepare marginal pupils to pass the final exams. But time is not on their side. Trial exams set by the state for struggling schools have been delayed again, and will now start on September 13.

“There is no such thing as lost time because time can never be regained. Time never goes back and I think that is what people don’t understand,” the principal said.

There are 13 days left before the term ends on September 23. The fourth term is scheduled to start on October 4. By October 25, matriculants should be prepared enough to sit their first final exam.

It is presumed that the affected schools will not close for the 10 days of the break. One principal said this will require co-operation from teachers, who can be hard to control at times.

Granville Whittle, spokesperson for the national Basic Education Department, said they are optimistic that all provinces have had measures in place to mitigate the impact of the strike.

“We are finalising a national recovery plan. The department will make an announcement later this week. Clearly the focus will be on what it is that we need to do to ensure that we are able to recover the lost time. We also want to have a special focus of support for grade 12 pupils at this time.”

Whittle said he is especially concerned that township and rural schools seem to have been severely affected by the strike.

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