Start supps in Grade 8 - union

2010-01-28 21:12

Durban - Pupils should start supplementary examinations in Grade 8 to reduce the drop-out rate, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) said in Durban on Thursday.

"The department of education must start transformation around supplementary examinations. Learners must start supplementaries at Grade 8," said Mbuyiseni Mathonsi, Sadtu's provincial secretary.

Supplementary exams at an early stage would help reduce the number of pupils who dropped out of school, he said.

"Learners end up dropping out of school because they have failed one or two subjects, they repeat the whole year's work," Mathonsi said.

The Young Communist League, the Congress of South African Students (Cosas), the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union, the South African Students' Congress and Sadtu on Thursday announced an education alliance to improve the education system.

It demanded that the 39% of pupils who failed the final matric examinations in 2009 be allowed to go back to school.

"Those who qualify for supplementary exams must first be given all the information as to where, when and how they can get forms to apply for supplementary exams and they need to be supported in the process," said Njabulo Ziqubo, of Cosas.

Finishing school

Mathonsi said the government had to introduce a public finishing school to assist those pupils who did not pass matric.

The alliance also raised issues of university entry points and said students from disadvantaged schools should be given support.

"The universities must not be a law unto themselves; they must stop using their autonomy to disadvantage poor learners from access[ing] higher education. They need to respond to the needs of the country...," said Mathonsi.

He said pupils who were one or two points short should be accepted to mainstream higher education without having to do bridging programmes, but had to be assisted and supported academically to pass.

He said that at university level, pupils from poor communities were expected to compete with those from good schools with resources.

Referring to the striking students at Durban’s University of Technology (DUT), Mathonsi described their demands as legitimate.

"If you take learners to slums near brothels and liquor you're saying these learners must not succeed. Management must stop disrupting education. We as Sadtu support the students. If this continues we will march with them," he said.

Last week DUT students took to the streets demanding better accommodation for residents.

On Wednesday DUT management and the student representative council reached an agreement and the protests have since stopped.