School year kicks off

2009-01-20 00:00

OVER 6 000 schools in KwaZulu-Natal opened their gates today, together with other coastal provinces, at the start of a fresh academic year after a shaky end to 2008. And all concerned are hoping for a smooth start.

The Education Department has said that 99% of non-section-21 schools will have received their textbooks and stationery by today.

MEC Ina Cronje is planning three days of unannounced visits to different parts of the province to check that teaching and learning begin on the first day of school.

Cronje will be accompanied by Premier Sbu Ndebele, the MEC for Finance and Economic Development, Zweli Mkhize, and King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Meanwhile, teachers’ unions have vowed to continue to be the custodians of education in the province.

The SA Democratic Teacher’s Union (Sadtu) spokesman, Sipho “KK” Nkosi, said that top of the agenda will be to ensure that teachers are properly remunerated for their work.

He said that part of Sadtu’s mission this year will be to pull the matric pass rate above 60%.

The union plans to do this by channelling R650 000 from its budget to the rural districts, which turned in the worst matric results last year and where Sadtu plans to hold winter and spring holiday schools in partnership with the department.

Anthony Pierce, spokesman for the National Association of Professional Teachers of SA (Naptosa), said they have five issues to iron out with the department of Education, which they will pursue until they get results.

Naptosa aims to resolve one of the issues in particular — the “illegal” docking of salaries after the 2007 June strike.

It will also call for expeditious appointments to all vacant posts, as well as a quick response by the department to misconduct hearings, which can sometimes drag on for two years.

National education spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said the circumstances surrounding the late release of 56 000 matric results around the country should be avoided this year once the findings of Umalusi and the department’s committee tasked with the investigations are made available.

“We have to remember that last year was the first year for the National Senior Certificate examinations and the move from the old system to the new contributed to the situation,” he said.

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