A matric pupil at Jeppe School for Girls preparing for the Matric Examinations.File Picture: Steve Lawrence
A matric pupil at Jeppe School for Girls preparing for the Matric Examinations.File Picture: Steve Lawrence

Critics give KZN Department of Education's 2021 matric plan an F, motivational programme mooted for class disrupted for 2 years by Covid-19

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Sep 2, 2021

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DURBAN - A 12-POINT plan to prepare Grade 12 pupils for their end-of-year exams has been unveiled by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education, and it seeks to enlist the help of motivational speakers to work on the pupils’ psyches.

However, the plan has been slammed by teacher unions and political parties who yesterday warned the department not to expect improved performance as a result of motivational talks.

The department has described the matric class of 2021 as “examination unfit” due to the learning time lost because of Covid-19, which has disrupted two critical learning years.

The plan called “12 Focus Point Improvement Acceleration Plan” was crafted by the department after noting that there were no guarantees about the availability of teaching and learning time as a result of Covid-19, unpredictable waves of infection and the resultant alert levels.

The plan is wide ranging, and focuses on improving performance in strategic subjects, improving performance of pupils at risk, including progressed pupils, and addressing learning losses and the shortage of teaching and learning time.

It also looks at additional access to learning through e-learning opportunities, increasing the number of schools that achieve a 100% pass rate and introducing learner motivation activities.

Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu spoke about the plan during his address to members of the Education Portfolio Committee this week. The plan lists a number of challenges this class has faced, including not writing the midyear examinations in 2020, which means that they have not been adequately exposed to standardised assessment.

Another uphill battle facing the Class of 2021 was that it started the academic year with varying content knowledge, as pupils were subjected to varying timetables, and were severely affected by Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021.

The plan lists several interventions that have to be made to help pupils cope, including boosting the emotional and mental wellness of the pupils.

It includes inviting motivational speakers to motivate matrics on the radio. The department also wants to create a “motivation across the curriculum” culture, in which teachers would motivate pupils while they taught, and avoid discouraging comments.

It calls on circuit managers and school principals to invite successful ex-pupils to schools to motivate pupils. On improving the marks in subjects such as accounting and business studies, it talks about the need to develop and provide revision documents on how to attain “easy marks” as one of the strategies in these subjects.

To assist struggling and progressed pupils, it directs that the department should develop and distribute welldesigned, simplified programmes.

To address learning losses and the shortage of learning and teaching time, the plan proposed that the department develop, mediate and distribute “Step Ahead” study material for schools to create a link between the 2020 and 2021 workloads.

DA education spokesperson Dr Imran Keeka said the plan was weak and a clear sign that the pupils were on their own.

“I am unsure what led to the conclusion that pupils lack motivation. This is a year that concludes their schooling career, and the motivation to progress to the next phase of their lives must be there. To hire motivational speakers to address pupils through radio stations will yield no results, just like the million spent on radio lessons during the harsh lockdown,” he said.

He added that the money could have been used to improve teaching and learning now when there were pupils in the classroom.

“With almost two months left until the first paper of the matric exam, the plan appears to be hastily cobbled together and rather weak, and does not seem adequately implementable. It’s a plan about a plan,” he said.

IFP education committee member Mntomuhle Khawula said they were still waiting to see the full plan, and that the revision programmes the department carried in Ukhozi FM were effective.

“Calling on motivational speakers is unnecessary. The department should be focused on finishing the syllabus and calling on experts to assist the pupils with revision,” he said.

Scelo Bhengu of the Educators Union of SA said there had been no teaching and learning in schools due to Covid-19 disruptions.

“You can bring motivational speakers, but they will be of no use if the child has not been taught. This is an attempt by the department to make it look like they are doing something when they are doing nothing,” said Bhengu.

Acting President of the National Teachers Union, Sibusiso Malinga, said they welcomed any attempts to help pupils do well.

“Motivational speakers can come and give excellent speeches, but if pupils have not studied, the motivation will do nothing. There are classes that do not have substitute teachers at the moment, if they filled those classes and children learned, motivational speaking would do wonders,” he said.

The plan lists several interventions that have to be made to help pupils cope, including boosting emotional and mental wellness of the pupils.

THE MERCURY

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