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Teacher unions call for probe into learning time losses due to rotational timetables

SISTERS Shruti, 9, and Drishti Hariparsad, 7, fitted their new Sherwood Primary School uniform for the coming academic year 2022, at the Gems schoolwear in Overport. They were accompanied by their father. | Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

SISTERS Shruti, 9, and Drishti Hariparsad, 7, fitted their new Sherwood Primary School uniform for the coming academic year 2022, at the Gems schoolwear in Overport. They were accompanied by their father. | Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 31, 2021

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DURBAN - THE National Teachers’ Union (Natu), the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) and the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) have called for the evaluation of learning losses due to rotational timetables, before the losses become insurmountable.

Natu’s KZN secretary-general, Cynthia Barnes, said the re-evaluation by the Department of Education was necessary as “Covid-19 posed challenges in the education sector”.

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She said teachers reported that Grade 1 pupils, who often went to school twice a week, usually returned to school having forgotten everything they had been taught.

Sadtu KZN secretary-general, Nomarashiya Caluza said they had serious issues with the non-deployment of teachers, and some schools had been without teachers for six months.

“During the matric exams, there were schools that didn’t write certain papers because there were no teachers, and that was happening for the first time. The department confirmed this when we confronted them.”

Naptosa’s chief executive officer Thirona Moodley said learning losses affected all grades and the hardest hit must be the foundation phase.

“It’s possible that these learners may go through the phase not knowing what it is like to be in school full-time. And 2021 was definitely a better year for education than 2020. We had already traversed the path of Covid-19 and much of our systems were in place to tackle schooling amidst a pandemic.”

She said staffing continued to be a concern, adding this year saw many schools having to function without teachers.

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“Some had up to 6-8 teacher vacancies. These schools struggled and the department was not able to assist due to the budget.” Moodley said it was impossible for teaching and learning to continue in some schools, and “this must never happen in 2022”.

“Naptosa expects the department to do an audit of the infrastructure of schools. We will closely monitor the opening of schools and take up any challenges with the department,” she said.

Meanwhile, stores selling stationery and school uniforms have said they are now busier than in the same period last year. In the Durban CBD there was a snaking queue outside Gems schoolwear as parents lined up to buy school uniforms.

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Muhammed Patel, a manager at Gems in Durban, said from last week they had experienced a huge increase in the sale of school uniforms.

Liezel Rasool of Waltons Stationery said they were also very busy, but notably, most parents opted to buy online.

Rasool warned of a current global import issue, which was going to lead to stock shortages towards the school-opening period.

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