Swine flu fears take a back seat to matric prospects

2009-07-21 00:00

WHILE the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) fears that the reopening of schools after the three-week break could mean increased numbers of swine flu cases, no reports of the H1N1 virus have reached the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department.

Education spokesman Sihle Mlotshwa said all ran smoothly at the start of the new term yesterday.

Some Johannesburg-based private schools reported cases when they opened for the third term last week, raising suspicions the same is likely to happen in public schools.

As the end-of-year examinations loom closer, the message from Education MEC Senzo Mchunu to all matriculants yesterday was that hard work is still the only recipe for success.

In less than three months, grade 12s will be writing the second instalment of the National Senior Certificate examinations.

The National Curriculum Statement was declared policy in 2003 for implementation in grade 10 in 2006, making the 2008 matric class the first to write the examination last year.

Expectations for this year’s results are heightened by the fact that education officials at both national and provincial level say last year’s pass rates cannot be fairly judged when compared to results of the previous education system.

They say only the 2008 results could present a baseline with which future grade 12 performances can be compared.

Last year’s results in the province slipped by six percent from 63,8% in 2007 to 57,8%, with the worst performing district, Obonjeni in northern KZN, obtaining only a 38% pass.

As part of the provincial matric intervention programme to improve these results, Mchunu will start to make a series of surprise visits to high schools across the province today.

Mchunu said his visits are not intended to expose school principals, but rather to access how under-performing schools are managed.

“There is no magic wand. Hard work, focus and determination are the only formula for success,” he said.

“We need to get to the crux of the challenges and obstacles that prevent these schools from performing optimally so we can render support and set up intervention measures,” he added.

However, Mchunu has not been able to be specific about the margin by which he hopes to improve matric pass rates.

The visits will culminate in meetings with school principals and grade 12 teachers in the districts.

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