Write your prelims, matrics urged

2010-09-14 16:10

Johannesburg - Refusal to write preliminary examinations, which the Congress of SA Students is advocating, will badly affect pupils' perception of their readiness for the matric exams, an academic warned on Tuesday.

The Gauteng education department recently made last minute changes to its timetable, prompting the student body to believe this would set pupils up to fail their finals.

"The timing of it (prelim timetable change) is problematic because students are already stressed, and this mix-up enhances the stress levels – thus it is being experienced as a big problem," head of Wits University's education school Professor Ruksana Osman told Sapa.

Osman however said that despite the timetable changes, students should not be studying to the timetable, but working with the study plan they had set themselves.

While the current disruptions should not be underestimated, ideally the Grade 12 syllabus should have been covered by the mid-year holidays, with the second half focused on mastery of tasks and revision.

Osman said all was not yet lost for pupils. They still had time to adjust to the current disruptions and should focus on using their time fruitfully, by putting their education first and writing the prelims to determine their weak points.

National Association of Parents in School Governance spokesperson Mahlomola Kekane said Grade 12 pupils needed to sit for their prelims to measure their progress, so they could implement corrective measures where needed ahead of their final exams.

Pupil shot dead

"We are already speaking to Cosas, which has taken a position in this matter. Cosas has an issue to advance, but our message is that prelims must be used by pupils to evaluate themselves to determine their state of readiness."

The disruptions by Cosas, which had spread to the Free State, resulted in 17-year-old pupil Notsikelelo Anna Nokela being shot dead, allegedly by police firing a warning shot during an exam protest at the Wesi and Mosala secondary schools in Allanridge, near Welkom on Monday morning.

The Independent Complaints Directorate, which has opened an investigation, said police alleged pupils pelted them with stones on arrival at the school just before 11:00.

Gauteng education department spokesperson Charles Phahlane said they had received reports of "incidents" in the province, but could not immediately provide details. He said department officials had been sent to the affected schools to assess the situation.

Cosas had warned that disruptions would be more prevalent in Soweto schools. However police said no serious incidents had been reported in the township so far.

Captain Nomvula Mbense said earlier on Tuesday that Cosas members on their way to Phefeni High School were stopped in their tracks when police arrived before they did at the school.

"It seems they are turning away from schools where they find police already monitoring them," she said.

But Cosas Gauteng provincial secretary Oagile Louw said pupils would continue protesting against writing prelims, saying they were not ready after the recent teachers' strike that lasted almost a month.

Cosas to declare war on police

"Our fundamental point of departure is that we the students in majority agree that we are not ready to write preliminary examination up until a common recovery plan across the province is properly implemented for two weeks with more commitment from all education stakeholders," he said in a statement.

He criticised the killing of the Free State pupil, and said Cosas was going to "hit back" by declaring a war against the police.

"We are prepared to fight till the bitter end, we dare the department to issue an interdict and we will bring Gauteng to a standstill," Louw said.

The Gauteng ANC Youth League however called on pupils to write their prelims, and on the department to ensure measures were in place to protect them.

"While we sympathise with the grievances being raised by Cosas, we believe that the learners should be allowed and encouraged to participate in the exams," provincial league chairperson Lebogang Maile said.

He further condemned the violence and intimidation that had characterised the exam disruptions across the country.

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag) said the current disruption of prelims was putting unnecessary stress on pupils, who were already overwhelmed by preparations for the finals.

Spokesperson Cassey Amoore said there was more pressure on pupils, especially this year, due to the extended winter holiday they had to accommodate during the World Cup.

"They need a lot of emotional support, enough time to study, good sleep and eating habits. Parents are encouraged to speak to their children, to ask them about their subjects and where they need help.

"At the same time parents must also help their children de-stress, but this should not be in the form of a big bash that will interfere with their studies," she said.

For more information on how to help pupils during exams, contact Sadag on 0800-567-567.