Sadtu NEC calls for start of matric exams to be delayed

The Department of Basic Education director-general (DG), Mathanzima Mweli, shared an update on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the basic education sector on Wednesday. File image.

The union has also criticised the department for announcing the dates for the reopening of schools for the 2021 academic year without consultation.

The national executive committee (NEC) of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) wants the start of the final National Senior Certificate examinations to be delayed until 5 November.

During a virtual meeting on Friday, 21 August, the NEC discussed this and other matters, including personal protective equipment (PPE) budgets, the state of the economy and the reopening of schools.

In a statement issued after the meeting, it said it noted that matric pupils, especially those from disadvantaged areas, would not be able to prepare for the exams because of intermittent school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The NEC reiterated the union’s call for the DBE (department of basic education) to trim, reorganise and reset the examination papers for the 2020 examinations. The NEC resolved to urge the DBE to delay the start of examinations from 5 November to 26 November to allow learners more time to prepare for the examinations,” she said.

The committee said the combination of the June and November exams was bound to affect the marking process, saying that additional markers and an extended marking period would be needed to ensure quality and reliability.

Back to school

News24 previously reported that a joint survey by the country’s five unions showed that 11% of participating schools were struggling to put together a timetable because of a lack of space and teacher availability.

The NEC said the department should have used the break to fix issues.

On Monday, pupils in Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10 and 11 headed back to school and joined those in Grades 7 and 12, who had already returned on 3 and 10 August. The remaining grades will return on 31 August.

The union has also criticised the department for announcing the dates for the reopening of schools for the 2021 academic year without consultation.

“The framework for the schools to reopen was also too rigid. Grade 12 markers, many of whom are Grade 12 teachers, will finish marking on 22 January and schools will open on 25 January.

“This will give these teachers hardly any time to rejuvenate. The NEC, therefore, resolved to engage [the] DBE to ensure a workable school calendar,” the union said.

It added that it was also opposed to the department’s plan to “reduce subjects for Grades 7 to 9 as part of trimming the curriculum” because it would be detrimental to pupils and would narrow their subject options and choices when they enter the FET phase.

“This would further widen the gap between the resourced and under-resourced schools as these will be forced to drop the subjects.

“The department was also not clear on what would happen to the teachers whose subjects are dropped. The NEC took the decision to, as a matter of urgency, engage the department further on this matter.”

Referring to the draft collective agreement for the appointment of substitute educators, the union said: “[The] NEC resolved that the draft agreement deals with how expeditiously substitute educators can be appointed to deal with the reality that was brought upon the education system by the pandemic.

“The issue of teaching assistants requires a different agreement where their job descriptions and conditions of employment would be agreed. Their job, in the main, must be to support the teachers and learners in complying with physical distances and overseeing learners completing homework and not to teach because they are not qualified.”

The union’s NEC also condemned reports of corruption related to PPE and the awarding of unscrupulous tenders amid the pandemic.

It blamed National Treasury for decentralising the procurement of PPE, which opened “the floodgates for corruption and an uncoordinated process”.

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