Dept: W Cape matrics will be ok

2010-08-19 16:27

Cape Town - Although just over 13% of Western Cape teachers stayed away from work and 34 schools were closed in the province on Wednesday with the number expected to escalate as the strike drags on, the province says it is confident that its matrics will remain unaffected.

"A number of initiatives have been put in place to assist Grade 12s, which we believe will offset the impact of the strike on Grade12s during this period," Western Cape MEC for education Donald Grant said at a press conference in Cape Town on Thursday.

Grant said Grade12 tutorial programmes that have been running in the province since the beginning of the second school term. The programmes will run until the start of final examinations.

"Learners from across the province participated in these programmes during the extended June/July holiday period, and therefore, we believe that they will remain unaffected during the strike action," he told journalists.

Other programmes include interactive learning through the internet and cellphones.

"Learners are encouraged to ask their district office or school for more information on the tutoring programmes and telematics programme," he said.

Grant said specific schools had also been provided with extra past examination papers.

Intimidation and violence

The department has said that it is monitoring how schools were being affected twice a day since the beginning of the strike on Wednesday.

"13.7% teachers were absent yesterday (Wednesday) and that is likely to escalate today and into tomorrow," the MEC said adding that their records showed that 34 schools were closed on Wednesday.

Grant said the most affected areas were in Khayelitsha, Langa and Mitchell's Plain.

He said the department had received reports of 13 incidents of intimidation and one of violence by teachers on Wednesday. No arrests had been reported, he said.

Teachers found not to be acting in a "responsible and professional manner" would have charges of misconduct laid against them, said the MEC.

"The Western Cape Education Department is also in the process of identifying suitable sites for Grade 12s in affected areas where they can study in a safe and secure location," he said.

Grant said in some instances parents had volunteered to supervise learning where teachers are absent. But more were needed.

"We are appealing for volunteers to assist in the supervision of classrooms," he said.

Cost unknown

Head of department Penny Vinjevold said although they were not sure how many volunteers were in place, many schools had made different arrangements to ensure that learning continues. She added that the department would assess the situation over the weekend.

Only after then would they know the extent of the situation, and what needs to be done, she said.

Although the department had received quotations for printing and distributing more study material to schools from August 23, Vinjevold said the total cost of these programmes was not yet known.

Asked whether their contingency plans were aimed at ensuring final examination success Vinjevold said the department's plan also had the September exams, whose results Grade 11 pupils use to apply for entrance to tertiary institutions, in mind.

"The department will make sure that the September exams are scheduled even if they are delayed," she said.

Pupils were also encouraged to watch and listen to educational programmes on television and radio.

Learning continues

Meanwhile, at Bergvliet High School in Cape Town the strike had no real impact on Thursday.

"Our teachers aren't on strike and there is no absenteeism today,” Wendy Crause, business manager at the school told News24.

“Some of our teachers are part of Naptosa and there is the potential that they might go on strike tomorrow and a march on the 26th. They (teachers) are having a meeting about this.”

She said that even if the teachers decide to go on strike, the school will be open, and pupils will be there.  “We have substitute teachers and an extensive substitute network that can come in.”

She also added that even if Naptosa members go on strike, they have enough teachers who are employed by the governing body.

“They are not allowed to strike because they are not part of the union. We will have to increase the size of the classes, as a last resort, we can bring in parents to monitor while the pupils do work, but that would be in a really radical case," she said.

The Western Cape led all provinces in last year's matric results with 75.7% of the province's registered matrics passing the final exam. Gauteng was second with 71.7%. The worst performing province was the Eastern Cape  with 51%.

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