The Department of Basic Education has revealed that progressed pupils are struggling to cope. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
The Department of Basic Education has revealed that progressed pupils are struggling to cope. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Progressed pupils are ‘struggling to cope’

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Sep 16, 2020

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Durban - The majority of progressed pupils due to write their Grade 12 examination are struggling to cope with the workload and are in need of urgent intervention.

This is according to the KwaZulu Department of Education, which told members of the education portfolio committee that the analysis of their performance did not inspire confidence. According to the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NCS) registration figures, the province has 16 551 progressed pupils.

This is half of the number that wrote last year.

The deputy director-general of curriculum management and delivery, Dr Barney Mthembu, said it had analysed how progressed pupils performed in Grade 11 and the first term of this year, and the results showed that many were still struggling.

He said the department was now concerned not just with the performance of progressed pupils, but all the pupils, as all of them had suffered through the loss of time.

He said the department was developing an inclusive approach to assist all pupils.

In his presentation, he said even before the emergence of the Covid19 pandemic, the department was concerned about the performance of progressed pupils and the impact their performance would have on the overall pass rate.

“The department was acutely aware, very early in the year, of the threat posed by the progressed pupils to the overall performance of the Class of 2020.

“Over and above this, the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) took a decision in 2019 that the progressed of 2020 will write all subjects.

“The Department of Education started by taking an audit of the 2019 Grade 11 subject performance, to identify possible areas of immediate support. The analysis of the audit was used to inform the interventions that would suit the needs of progressed pupils.

“In spite of intended focused attention to progressed pupils, the advent of Covid-19 presented a situation in which progressed pupils were out of reach from March 26 to June 7, 2020,” he said in his report.

The analysis found that in Accounting, about 37% of the pupils were in need of serious intervention, 56% in Economics were struggling, in English first additional language about 48% were in need of serious intervention.

It also found that 57% were not good at Geography, and 47% were struggling with History, 56% were struggling with Physical Science and 32% were in need of assistance with Mathematics.

“We have realised that while the progressed pupils need special support, all pupils need support as they have suffered and that is why we are implementing an inclusive approach to assist all the pupils,” said Mthembu.

Mthembu said before the outbreak of Covid-19, the department had set up numerous intervention strategies to assist the progressed pupils, but these could not be implemented because of the lockdown.

He said many districts had submitted their incubation plans, aimed at assisting progressed pupils. The incubation plans would be implemented only on weekends.

He said teachers were also putting in place school-based strategies to assist progressed pupils.

DA committee member Dr Imran Keeka said millions of rand had been spent by the department on lesson portals, but there was no way to assess if these had been successful.

“Mechanisms to ensure progressed pupils do well seem insubstantial, the department has not convinced me they are adequately monitoring the progress of these pupils, and cannot project a pass or failure rate,” he said.

The Mercury

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