I am writing about the cancellation of the ANAs recently. I am a high school teacher and had prepared my Grade 8s for the ANAs.
Read more: Tests cancelled: teacher speaks out
For three weeks we had gone through the Exemplar paper provided by the Department. We revised the rules of grammar, comprehension, unseen poetry and the analysis of adverts.
On the eve of the exam I felt that we had covered the revision and that the exercise had been worthwhile. I was disappointed that we had to find an alternative test when there was one that had been carefully set and hopefully moderated, waiting in our strong room.
I know that certain Maths teachers find the ANAs a distraction as they are obliged by the Maths requirements to stop what they are doing and go onto a different aspect of Maths because the ANAs demand this.
A criticism of the ANAs and the Department is that the relationship between the teachers and the Department is a top-down one. The Department issues proclamations and demands. Teachers are too often 'told' high-handedly to attend meetings in holidays or on afternoons when they should be preparing or marking or doing extra-murals.
To add insult to injury teachers feel frustrated because all too often the standard of training is just not up-to-scratch. Teachers are educated people. For this reason, they have a right to be trained by top presenters, or not at all.
In general I believe that the recent ANAs fiasco is the result of the poor communication between the Department and the teachers. The members of the 'Department' (who often prefer to remain anonymous) need to confer with the teachers who are after all in daily contact with the students. If they can't do this then they should not hold their positions.
Most South Africans acknowledge that we are facing an education crisis. The cancellation of a major set of exams involving millions of students should not be brushed under the carpet. Heads should roll and Department members who do not represent the interests of both students and teachers alike should be sent back to the classroom so that they can remember what life in the classroom is really like.
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