Attendance at schools still a concern for the Western Cape Education Department
Cape Town - The trend in attendance has generally been positive since schools reopened in June, taking into account the phasing in of grades, said the Western Cape Education Department.
Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the attendance rate for Grade 3s increased from 41% to 71%, Grade 7 from 32% to 76% and Grade 12 from 44% to 87%.
Hammond said the numbers were based on pupils physically at school. “While the original numbers seem extremely low, one must also note that attendance was staggered on certain days, making it hard to calculate.”
Lorraine Botha, the DA’s provincial spokesperson on education, said the increasing rate of attendance could be attributed to the decrease of Covid-19 infections and reduced levels of anxiety related thereto. Botha said there were 14 weeks left of the academic year, and contact time was dramatically reduced.
However, Brian Isaacs, interim secretary for The Progressive Organisation Formation, said from their sources Grade 12 attendance was still low.
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said according to replies by the Provincial Education Department to questions raised by MPLs concerning attendance, attendance in all grades, except Grade 12, was less than 80% until September 4.
“For instance, for Grade 7s attendance was 33% on June 1 and increased to 77% on September 4. Attendance for Grade 9s dropped from 62% on August 24 to just 49% on September 4. Grade 10s have remained at 52% since July 20, while attendance for Grade 11s dropped from 60% on July 6 to 53% in September. Attendance for Grade 12s was at 44% on June 1 to 88% in September. Other grades have shown similar trends of low attendance.”
He said the low attendance in Grades 9-11 was a serious concern because those were the grades contributing to the high dropout rate.
SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said they were worried about the low number in learner attendance.
He said the Education Department must encourage learners to come back to school and to consistently communicate about Covid-19 infection figures.