Eastern Cape matrics face exam ban for bunking

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Eastern Cape matrics face exam ban for bunking

Eastern Cape pupils will be banned from writing final exams on a fulltime basis if they are absent for more than 20 days

Prega Govender

In a bid to improve the matric pass rate, the Eastern Cape education department will be banning pupils from writing the final exams on a fulltime basis if they are absent for more than 20 days.
The drastic move is among a host of measures outlined in the department’s 2018 improvement plan for the National Senior Certificate exams.
The Eastern Cape, which has been the worst performing province in the matric exams for several years, achieved a 65% pass rate last year. A total of 43,000 pupils passed the exams and of these 15,380 qualified for admission to bachelor studies.For this year and next year the department’s planned target for the percentage of matrics passing the exam is 66% and 70% respectively.Schools in the province will also be setting targets this month to increase the number of pupils passing matric as well as the number of bachelor passes.
According to the improvement plan document, the targets will be included in each school’s improvement plan and will be conveyed to the new school governing bodies.
“Setting targets in consultation with school management teams leads to focused attention and support for teachers and pupils. The setting of targets means that school leaders and district officials come to ‘know’ their pupils and those who require particular forms of support to achieve distinctions,” the document stated.
Matrics will be informed this month that they will be deregistered as fulltime candidates if they are absent between now and the end of September for more than 20 days without a valid reason.The document stated that matric pupils will use the afternoons and Saturdays for extra lessons.It stated that recent research indicated that too little time was spent on teaching in South African schools and that loss of time on any day contributed to “learning deficits”.
“This is widely regarded as a problem in many Eastern Cape schools. From May 2, schools will use every hour of every school day to ensure curriculum coverage and deep understanding of core concepts. Schools will have a timetable which is followed by all teachers.”
The department also vowed to closely monitor teacher absenteeism and promised to deploy temporary teachers to schools where educators were frequently absent.According to the plan, all matric pupils should have received textbooks for every subject by the end of this month.Although the department has come under heavy criticism for the shortage of teachers in the classroom, it promised that all grade 12 pupils will have teachers or tutors for all subjects by the end of this month.“The recruitment and placement of qualified teachers for grade 12 pupils will receive priority in May.”
Initiatives aimed at providing extra tuition to pupils will include:
• 100 Affinity maths and science tutors offering tuition during and after school;
• Telematics tutors in high enrolment subjects at telematics schools from May to September;
• lessons on television and radio from May to October; and
• Saturday classes and winter schools.
Loyiso Mbinda, provincial chief executive of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa for Eastern Cape, said it would be tantamount to pupils being deprived of an education if schools “blindly” deregistered them after they were absent for more than 20 days.
“There should be a record of what has been done by the school since the pupil’s first day of absence until the 20th day before the decision [to deregister] is taken. A pupil might be absent from school while the parent is not aware of this.”While he applauded the department’s commitment to ensure that teachers were teaching for each and every hour of the schoolday, he hoped that departmental officials would not call educators to meetings and workshops during school time.
Commenting on the department’s promise to ensure matric pupils had teachers in all subjects, he said “it is very unfortunate that whenever we talk of education we talk of grade 12s”.
“As Naptosa, we believe what is taking place in grade 12 is a culmination of what has taken place from grade R to grade 11. We believe that every pupil from grade R to grade 12 must have a teacher in front of the class.”
Eastern Cape education department spokesperson Mali Mtima said that they were concerned that pupils were not taking up opportunities offered for free fulltime tuition.
“The proposal is to indicate to pupils they should attend class on a fulltime basis to be fulltime candidates.”
The department was hoping to increase the number of matrics passing this year by 2,000 more than last year.
He said the “overwhelming majority” of matric pupils had teachers or tutors for all subjects, adding: “It is impossible to be certain as this can change from week to week.”
Said Mtima: “The department’s main aim and commitment is to offer pupils every opportunity to succeed in the exams.”

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