No recovery plan for education yet
Johannesburg - There were no plans yet to make up for schooling time lost during the near-month long public sector strike, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Thursday.
"The Council of Education Ministers and I have considered a range of options, including the extension of the school day, classes on weekends and how best to use the September school holidays, to make up for the lost schooling time," she said in a statement.
"All these options would have serious implications for what is already a challenging situation.
"All considerations and their potential impact are therefore being carefully evaluated and implications considered for action, if need be, and the department will make an announcement on this matter shortly."
In the meantime, Motshekga urged provincial education MECs to consider suspending all extra-curricula activity until year end to focus on learning and teaching.
The public sector strike saw teachers downing tools for over three weeks, with pupils losing 17 days at their desks.
Unions announced a 21-day suspension of the strike on Monday.
The strike had placed the system under severe pressure, Motshekga said, and schools should focus on learning and teaching, paying particular attention to the matric class of 2010.
Matrics needed extra support during this time. The minister called on all South Africans to rally behind them as they had supported Bafana Bafana during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
"These young men and women are on the cusp of entering new lives, either the world of work or further and higher education and training. They need all the support they can get.
"I am confident that the provinces' recovery plans will strengthen learning and effective preparation for the end of the year examinations."
Matrics should make sure they took advantage of the opportunities for extra classes and other educational support available to them.
"We have agreed with MECs that each province will communicate regularly with learners and parents to update them on the support programmes being offered," Motshekga said.
"Nothing prevents a school community from deciding, in the interests of learners, to continue with support and enrichment programmes during the holiday period."
The department would also directly aid schools who had under performed in the past. It would provide extra revision material and pupils would be placed under the guidance of subject specialists.
"As of today (Thursday), we have 45 days left. Learners must make the most of this time and also take responsibility for their own revision."
The minister also announced the suspension of the Annual National Assessments for grades 3, 6 and 9 - these would be postponed to February 2011.
"I am convinced that this will provide the system with the time and space to ensure that all learners are adequately prepared for these assessments," she said.
She further urged schools to focus particularly on numeracy and literacy.
"These are critical foundational skills that learners need in order to be able to learn.
"Our Grade 11s will be entering Grade 12 and our younger learners need to strengthen their foundational skills of literacy and numeracy."