Schools get off to a good start this year

2008-01-18 00:00

The return to school has gone well, but teachers’ unions are concerned that not all teachers are well prepared.

The provincial department has received positive feedback from most educational districts, departmental spokeswoman Christi Naude said.

“So far, cluster managers reported a smooth start to the year. One of the department’s long serving managers who went around on school visits yesterday even described it as one of the best starts he has ever had as most of the schools visited were functional with stationery and textbooks available and there were very few late registrations at the schools,” said Naude.

Unions’ concerns were mainly whether teachers are prepared to handle the new curriculum, and overcrowding at some schools.

The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) provincial spokesman Musa Gumede said that more than 300 rural schools did not begin effective teaching on Wednesday due to delays in registration.

He said union members have expressed dissatisfaction with the Education Department’s failure to renew the contracts of temporary teachers or convert temporary teachers to permanent posts.

He said areas adversely affected include Ubombo, Msinga, Umzinyathi and Obonjeni.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union provincial secretary Sipho Nkosi said he was impressed with the dedication of teachers who began teaching on the first day even under adverse circumstances at some schools.

“Most of the schools I visited in Durban had a common problem of overcrowding. At the Siyanda Primary school there were 500 pupils divided among seven classrooms, at the JG Zuma High school, each class had a capacity of 72 pupils. This indicates that there is a huge challenge for the department to build additional schools,” said Nkosi.

Nkosi also expressed concern about the training of teachers for the new curriculum as not all teachers have completed training.

“We hope that the department will give the teachers subject-specific content, which they can use to teach as they have merely been orientated about the new curriculum,” Nkosi said.

Naude said that these claims will be looked into and she could only comment on them once detailed reports from cluster and district managers were received.

Most Pietermaritzburg schools reported a normal start to the school year.

Esther Payne Smith Secondary in Northdale — one of Pietermaritzburg’s most troubled schools, which was the most visited school by MEC Ina Cronje last year — began the school year with minimal problems.

Cronje was proud that the numerous visits to the school paid off as the school soared from a 52% matric pass rate in 2006 to a 91,7% pass in 2007.

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