Unions have commended the class of 2020’s performance, but warn of the ramifications of last year’s disruptions on this academic year.
The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) commended stakeholders, teachers and matriculants who “gave their all to prepare and write this crucial examination under difficult conditions”.
However, the union said it was aware that some candidates withdrew from their studies and therefore did not write the examination due Covid-19 coronavirus fears.
This after Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the class of 2020 pass rate on Monday, which stood at 76.2%.
Sadtu praised rural, township and no-fee paying schools for continuously attaining the most quality passes.
“These schools who suffer due to lack of resources were the hardest hit by Covid-19 as they had little or no access to blended learning opportunities and therefore could not continue learning from home during lockdown. When schools eventually opened, pupils from these schools could not easily adjust to the new Covid-19 environment as their schools could not meet all the Covid-19 protocols.
“As we commend the continuous improvement of results in these schools, we are fully aware of the fact that this has come at a huge prize. Teachers had to conduct catch up lessons over weekends, holidays, early mornings and late afternoons to teach and prepare the matric class for these examinations. However, going an extra mile has become a norm for teachers and pupils in these schools as they have to compensate for the inadequate resources they have,” Sadtu said.
The union said the current post provisioning model (declaring of teaching posts) puts pupils in poorer communities at a disadvantage.
“We therefore call for an equitable funding formula so that we can see poorer schools receiving more resources. Individual school needs should be taken into account when budgeting.”
As the year 2021 began under adjusted level 3, Sadtu said it was not easy to tell how the year would pan out.
“Millions of rands were spent to procure personal protective equipment and we think this is likely to continue this year. We therefore call on government to provide a stimulus package for education to mitigate against the effects of the pandemic and also provide resources in poorly resourced schools. We can longer continue to normalise the situation of disparities that exist in our schooling system as it, in the long run, adversely affects the teachers as well as pupils who have to work overtime in order to achieve the results that can allow these pupils to pursue tertiary education,” the statement reads.
The National Professional Educators’ Union of SA (Naptosa) congratulated the class of 2020 and said that dedication, resilience, and hard work “once again proved to be elements of success”.
But, the union said the areas that was disconcerting about the results was the drop of more than 15 000 candidates that enrolled for maths.
The union said lessons learned last year should serve to improve schools this year and beyond.
“It is imperative that more attention is paid to the health and safety of teachers and pupils, the crumbling school infrastructure must be attended to, overcrowded classes can no longer be the order of the day, lessons learnt about online teaching and blended learning must be taken to all schools; our online platforms must be grown, and more practical implementation and less lip service delivery must become the order of the day,” Naptosa said.
The Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) said although matriculants deserved to be congratulated, the role of teachers was outstanding and deserved a monument.
“These teachers performed above and beyond the call of duty to prepare pupils and provide them with necessary confidence to enter the exam rooms. It would however be wrong to only honour the Grade 12 teachers because Grade 12 is the culmination of a school career. Grade 12 teachers could only successfully prepare the pupils on the basis of the foundation laid by other teachers during the preceding years,” SAOU said.
The union said it would be incorrect to focus on the class of 2020 against the background of Covid-19 because they had the advantage of full Grade 11 to prepare them for the 2020 matric exams.
“The Class of 2021 does not have the advantage of the same basis of preparation as a result of several disruptions that were experienced during 2020. Schools will have to work extremely hard and focused to prepare the Class of 2021. Hopefully, there will be less Covid-19 disruptions in 2021,” the union said.
The Professional Educators’ Union (PEU) also congratulated the class of 2020. However, the union said there were some critical education factors without which learning cannot take place effectively.
The union said these factors undermined efforts to implement higher levels of accountability and compromised capabilities in the education sector.
“While it has long been established that teacher content knowledge and provisioning of resources is significantly related to learning outcomes, teachers need to know how to translate that knowledge for effective learning in the classroom. This implies that both content knowledge and pedagogical skills need to be good, also noting that resources provisioning plays a vital role in achieving quality educational goals. The union also called on the department to take immediate drastic action in relation to the continuous spate of violence within schools throughout the country.
“Safety and security in schools is of paramount importance in ensuring quality education within our schools. We urge the department to work collaboratively and collectively with relevant stakeholders to address the scourge of incidences which impede negatively on the provision of quality teaching and learning in schools”.