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Cape town - The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in the Western Cape says it has received many complaints from teachers and principals struggling with the extra workload of marking annual national tests.
Last week, the Cape Argus reported that Alexander Sinton Secondary principal Fazil Parker had been called to a disciplinary meeting by the Western Cape Education Department because his teachers did not mark the Grade 9 annual national assessments. The tests assess pupils’ literacy and numeracy skills and are administered by the Department of Basic Education.
The Western Cape Education Department has indicated that Alexander Sinton was the only school in the province that did not mark the tests.
Parker told the Cape Argus that he only found out in August that teachers would have to mark the tests. By then the school had already released its September Grade 12 exam timetable and grades 8 to 11 control test programme.
He said that when he informed his teachers that they were expected to mark the scripts, they considered this an unreasonable instruction as they already had an enormous workload.
Sadtu provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said the union had received many complaints from teachers and principals. “We acknowledge that the timing of the annual national assessments had put tremendous pressure on the teachers,” Rustin said.
The concerns had been reported to the union’s national office.
David de Korte, provincial president of the SA Principals’ Association, said that after the annual national assessments were completed, principals had been asked by the Education Department for feedback.
Among the concerns raised was that the timeline for marking was tight and that teachers had to work during the holidays.
Asked if any principals or teachers had raised concerns with the department about the extra workload that the marking of the assessments was creating, department spokesman Paddy Attwell said: “Yes. The department explained that we are working with colleagues across the country as part of a national process.”
Concerns were also raised about the time of year the annual national assessments had to be written and Attwell said this had been relayed to the Department of Basic Education.
He said the Western Cape Education Department had given notice of the assessments for 2012 in a circular minute issued on February 15.
Attwell said the Department of Basic Education had confirmed plans for the assessments in a circular dated August 20. The circular had stated that teachers would mark the assessments.
The Western Cape Education Department had provided detailed instructions to schools on how to manage and mark the assessments in a circular minute issued on August 27, he said.