People's Post

Learning amid unrest

Book with open page of literature in heart shape and stack piles of textbooks on reading desk in library.
Book with open page of literature in heart shape and stack piles of textbooks on reading desk in library.

High schools in Retreat have begun to look into and outline contingency plans to get their learners, especially those in Grade 12, to study better leading up to preliminary and final examinations.

With some feeling its effects more than others, high schools in the area have experienced an overall drop in their June exam results since being hit with the recent spate of violent crimes. To better results and set learners up with a good foundation, three high schools are taking extra measures to facilitate learning.

June results

Steenberg High School deputy principal, Fred Lawrence said: “In March it was a short test period and in June it’s the big exam and we usually see a bit of a dip, especially with the Grade 8s.” He added that they usually experience this dip with the Grade 8s as they have never been in an exam environment and are often unfamiliar with the procedures.

Sibelius High School held their first grade meeting last week to identify problem areas for learners based on the June exams.

Fuad Viljoen, the school’s deputy principal, said: “What we picked up is that Grade 8 and 9 learners come to high school with a background from primary school where they did not get a proper foundation within mathematics and languages. For the Grade 12s there is a problem with business studies and geography.”

While Steenberg and Sibelius did not notice an alarming drop in grades, Lavender Hill High School did.

Annelize Robson, Lavender Hill High School’s acting principal, explains: “This term there was a phenomenal drop in our results.” She says this was as a result of the rise in gang violence in the area.

Effects of rising crime

Robson continued: “It (gang violence) started just as they were going into the June exams, sometime in May. It flared up and it escalated to the point where we had to reschedule some of our tests because kids couldn’t come write their tests.”

She shared just one of the harrowing stories that had affected the learners at her school. “I know of two learners from our school and one from another school who were affected when they were walking to school and one of the boys was shot dead right next to them.

“The gang violence affected the morale of the learners and the attendance. It’s difficult to study with the shots ringing in your ears. They’re scared to have afternoon and Saturday classes. Once, as they left, the shots started. They were caught in the crossfire.”

Lawrence and Viljoenwho is this? were relieved to report that while many of the students who attend the school do come from the areas most affected by gang violence, it does not affect the school’s running as much as it affects schools based in Lavender Hill. “Our school, fortunately, doesn’t have too many outside influences coming into the school. The gang activities are not really prevalent in our school. The problem for us is the Grade 8s – the transition to high school exams,” said Lawrence.

The way forward

Lawrence says the future results are looking to be positive, with the Grade 12 and 9 learners on their way to preparing for September’s mock exams through afterschool classes which he says have been proven to improve marks.V Continued on page 2.


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