Senzo Mchunu, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education. Picture: Jacques Naude

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education announced on Tuesday, a plan to improve the matric pass rate – a one-week boot camp for teachers and no school holiday breaks for pupils until the critical year-end exams begin.

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu has launched a matric intervention programme in Durban for the 130 days left until the start of the National Senior Certificate exams.

Local education experts welcomed the department’s initiative, but said the intervention should have been introduced earlier in the year.

Expert teachers from provincial schools would be identified to tutor weak teachers and matric pupils for the intervention programme, in a bid to achieve an improved matric pass rate from last year’s 68 percent.

The programme, Mchunu said, was mainly aimed at the province’s estimated 500 underperforming schools that scored below 60 percent last year.

Before the programme begins, a component of it will be focused on deepening and extending the capacity of teachers to teach their subjects.

“We are swinging our attention to focus on matric, but the tuition will go to teachers first. The countdown is a march towards the year-end exams. By the end of August, high schools should have completed the matric curriculum and be focusing on revision. We aim to rid the system of areas of underperformance,” said Mchunu.

Since 2008, the provincial matric pass rate has fluctuated between 57.8 percent and 61.1 percent in 2009, 70.1 percent in 2010 and 68.1 percent in 2011.

Mchunu wants the programme to focus on maths and science, saying that many pupils struggled in these subjects. Last year, the matric maths pass rate was 39.5 percent, while physical science was 51.87 percent.

More than 35 000 pupils would attend the province’s 130 learning centres, where different schools would be paired and taught together.

Expert teachers and subject advisers would be tasked with sharpening the skills of teachers who struggle to teach their subjects.

The programme, which also includes Grade 10 and 11 pupils, would be rolled out from this month’s school holiday break until the start of the exams on October 22.

Muzi Mahlambi, the department’s spokesman, said the other grades were included to help detect problem areas at an early stage.

“Pupils must know that matric starts in Grade 10. Grade 12 is just the exiting of the system. Hard work has to start in the early grades,” he said.

At the beginning of the 2012 school year, the department asked schools to submit their own revision plans.

Teacher unions and the department have agreed on the compensation to be paid to teachers participating in the programme during school holidays and weekends. - Daily News

[email protected]