Schools reopening: empty desks after holidays worry teachers’ union

2012-07-17 00:00

THE National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said many pupils did not attend class on their first day of school yesterday.

Public schools reopened for the third term yesterday, and Natu’s Allen Thompson told The Witness that even though there were no major complaints, there were worries that attendance was low.

He said one of the reasons was that some of the pupils may have not yet come back from their holiday destinations. “… It’s a problem. There’s also a culture that needs to be eradicated. Usually pupils think that on the first day of school they just go there for cleaning and picking up papers and not for learning.”

Thompson challenged principals to address the issue, and encourage teachers to teach.

“If teachers teach on the first day like any other day of the year, pupils will feel it and they wouldn’t want to miss school.

“Pupils also need to be given homework so that they can feel they’re at school and that every day is important.”

Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said everything went well, except for schools that suffered storm damage — nine in Ugu District Municipality and one in Sisonke.

“We are doing everything in our power to make sure things are back on track … The weather must also allow us to repair the damaged schools,” Mahlambi said.

There are schools that did not feed their pupils because principals claimed they did not receive a circular, he added.

“We regret this, but a plan will be made by tomorrow [today] to feed these children,” he promised.

He said that the department relies on the districts to supply it with information and had not received a report that many pupils were absent from school.

“We’ll note that, but we didn’t receive any report that most pupils didn’t go to school.”

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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